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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

We have to make time our weapon,’ Zelenskyy says


Russian terror must lose everywhere and in everything - both on the battlefield and in the absence of ruins in our country - address by President Volodymyr Zelenskyy


By MARC SANTORA and CARLY OLSON


President Volodymyr Zelenskyy of Ukraine has implored allies to speed up delivery of weapons as Russia intensifies its assaults on eastern Ukraine and sends waves of troops in an effort to break through heavy Ukrainian defenses.


“Russia hopes to drag out the war, to exhaust our forces,” Zelenskyy said in his nightly address on Sunday. “So we have to make time our weapon. We must speed up the events, speed up the supply and opening of new necessary weaponry options for Ukraine.”


The United States and several European countries last week pledged to send dozens of battle tanks, among the most powerful weapons they have promised to Ukraine, but Western officials have said that it could be months before the tanks are delivered.


Zelenskyy’s appeal for both speedier deliveries of promised weapons and faster decisions on sending additional arms — including long-range missiles and even fighter jets — comes amid warnings that Moscow plans to launch a major offensive in the coming weeks, a year after Russia began its full-scale invasion of Ukraine.


Western allies have not publicly indicated if they will provide fighter jets, but over the course of the war, they have sent Ukraine an ever-expanding array of advanced weapons that many once thought were off-limits. Dmitry Peskov, the Kremlin’s spokesperson, said on Monday that further supplies of Western weaponry to Ukraine would lead to “significant escalation” of the conflict.


Military experts and allies say that in the coming weeks, Ukraine will also mount an offensive aimed at driving Russia out of occupied areas.


The British Defense Ministry said on Monday that Moscow was “likely keeping open the option” of announcing another “partial mobilization” of men with military experience for its war effort in Ukraine. In September, President Vladimir Putin of Russia announced the first such call up, of roughly 300,000 reservists, a move that prompted widespread protests.


Russia is currently “inundating” Ukraine’s positions in the east, according to Ukrainian officials. “They are simply throwing bodies at our positions and numbers and gradually moving forward,” Serhiy Haidai, the head of the Luhansk regional military administration, said on national television Sunday night.


As the war has evolved, so, too, has the kind of military assistance that Ukraine’s allies are willing to provide to Ukraine. First, it was small arms, such as the Javelin and NLAW anti-tank weapons that helped stall Russian forces and then drive them back from Kyiv and other northern cities. Then the focus shifted to artillery to help Kyiv match the Russian supply. That allowed Ukraine to grind out gains in the east, until July.


The arrival of precision missile systems, like the U.S.-made HIMARS, helped Ukraine set the stage for its two most successful operations, recapturing Kharkiv in the northeast, and then the southern city of Kherson.


After announcing last week that his government would send battle tanks, Chancellor Olaf Scholz of Germany reiterated over the weekend that Berlin would not send fighter jets to Ukraine. The United States has not indicated that it will send jets. European nations with U.S.-made jets could decide to transfer theirs to Ukraine, but only if Washington approves those transactions.


Long-range missiles are critical “to drastically curtail the key tool of the Russian army” by destroying weapons warehouses, Mykhailo Podolyak, a top adviser to Zelenskyy, said over the weekend. Col. Yuriy Ihnat, spokesman for the Ukrainian air force, said last week that F-16 fighter jets would serve a dual role in Ukraine, as part of air defenses and as “a force for strikes against the enemy.”


Oleksii Reznikov, the Ukrainian defense minister, said that fighter jets and long-range rockets remained at the top of the military’s wish list, adding that he was hopeful that discussions in coming weeks between Ukraine’s Western allies would lead to new commitments.


“For me, everything that’s impossible today will be possible tomorrow,” he said in an interview with the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. that aired on Sunday.

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