Western decisions on key military aid to Ukraine are too slow, says Zelensky

By Reuters
May 21, 2024
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy attends a joint press conference with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen (not pictured), amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, in Kyiv, Ukraine November 4, 2023. — Reuters

KYIV: Western allies are taking too long to make key decisions on military support for Ukraine, President Volodymyr Zelensky told Reuters in an exclusive interview in Kyiv on Monday.


He also said he was pushing partners to get more directly involved in the war with Russia by helping to intercept Russian missiles over Ukraine and allowing Kyiv to use Western weapons against enemy military equipment amassing near the border.

Clearly frustrated, Zelensky described the delivery of the aid, in particular of air defences like the Patriot systems which Ukraine relies on heavily in its war with Russia, as “one big step forward, but before that, two steps back.”

“Every decision to which we, then later everyone together, comes to is late by around one year,” he said, wearing his trademark khaki T-shirt and trousers and raising his voice at times.

His tough remarks come at a perilous time for his forces, which are outnumbered and outgunned by Moscow’s army and losing territory in the northeast and east of the country. Zelensky suggested ways in which allies could help more directly, including by shooting down Russian missiles over Ukrainian territory in certain circumstances.

“Russians are using 300 planes on the territory of Ukraine,” he said. “We need at least 120, 130 planes to resist in the sky,” Zelensky added, referring to US-designed F-16s, some of which he hopes will be used in combat soon.