'We Waited Too Long' for Western Weapons Before Starting Counteroffensive, Says Zelensky

Ukraine started the counteroffensive too late because it was waiting for weapons, and even now is waiting on deliveries that could be aiding the progress of fighting, President Volodymyr Zelensky has said.

“We waited too long”, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said when asked to reflect on the progress of the much-vaunted but pretty rapidly bogged-down Spring Counteroffensive against the Russian occupation as Summer rapidly gives way to Autumn. Indeed, on the amount of time left to Kyiv forces, U.S. General Milley reflected at the weekend that just a month or so remained of “fighting weather” this year.

Speaking to CNN‘s Fareed Zakaria, President Zelensky said there was no “happy ending” for Ukraine, saying the was was not like a Hollywood movie that would be over quickly, and the best outcome for the West in helping the nation turn back the Russian occupation is that it would dissuade Moscow from trying to invade anywhere else.

While asserting he was “thankful” to his Western partners for the weapons they donated, nevertheless President Zelensky appeared to pretty clearly blame those same nations for not rushing weapons to him fast enough, because the delay gave Russia time to dig in and plant deep minefields around their positions. He said: “[we were waiting] for the weapons… We waited too long, it’s through.

“I’m thankful to partners, the United States, the EU, President Biden, Congress but we have to understand, we waited too long. They put mines. Then when we be ready from the point of view of our partners, because the decision to give us — for  example Bradley [Armoured Fighting Vehicles], or another kind of weapon — the decision does not mean the result.”

Noting nations saying they would give a weapon system doesn’t mean they’d come immediately, Zelensky remarked that some things are still on their way, and that “a lot of people say [the Counteroffensive is] too slow, but [new weapons are] still on the way.

Everyone needs to “know and to recognise” that there cannot be a successful rout of the Russian invader without air superiority over Ukraine, Zelensky stated, saying the county needs “long-distance weapon systems. Artillery, rounds, systems… it’s very important. Everybody talks about the jets in the sky, it’s very important.”

Western nations giving Ukraine weapons now is better than having their own homes invaded by Russia later, Zelensky said, laying out what appears to be a stark choice. “You can feel it when your family is under attack. You really want to try it? I cannot recommend it”, he said.

The progress of the ‘Spring’ counteroffensive has been one of the major narratives of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine this year, first questions over why it didn’t begin until the summer, and then once it was underway why it was proceeding slower than usual.

These latest remarks by Zelensky have not been the first time he has blamed Western expectations of the speed of progress on a diet of war films. Back in June, when he admitted for the first time that the counteroffensive was going “slower than desired”, the President said: “Some people believe this is a Hollywood movie and expect results now. It’s not”.

Discussions of the speed of the counteroffensive often come in tandem with demands for more weapons. This was the case last week when Zelensky acknowledged Russia’s air superiority had given them the power to “stop our counteroffensive”, leading him to demand “powerful and long-range weapons” to close the gap.

He said then: “We are not in the sky and Russia is, they stop us from the sky. They stop our counteroffensive… The war is complicated, some processes are complicated, and many things have been slowed down. When some allies say: ‘What about the counter-offensive? When will the next step be?’. My answer is that today, our steps are coming faster than [the West’s] new sanctions packages.”


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