Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy announced that his forces stand ready to launch their long-promised counteroffensive to reclaim Russian-occupied territory.
“We strongly believe that we will succeed,” Zelenskyy told The Wall Street Journal. “I don’t know how long it will take.”
“To be honest, it can go a variety of ways, completely different,” he said. “But we are going to do it, and we are ready.”
Russian military officials have discussed the potential for a major Ukrainian offensive in Spring. Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin previously claimed the offensive had started in Bakhmut in early May, but any such action at that time failed to secure the city, which Russia secured at the end of the month.
PUTIN’S ‘BUTCHER’ THREATENS TO CUT SHORT UKRAINE CAMPAIGN IF ‘CLOWNS’ IN MOSCOW KEEP CALLING SHOTS
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu around the same time demanded that state-owned companies double their missile output in preparation for Ukraine’s counteroffensive, saying, “Right now it is necessary to double the production of high-precision weapons in the shortest possible time.”
Zelenskyy has made clear, though, that the counteroffensive is only about to begin. He made another plea for more Western-supplied weapons, insisting that while Ukraine is ready to move, officials “would like to have certain things, but we can’t wait for months.”
Dry weather in the eastern and southern parts of Ukraine have created conditions that Zelenskyy and his military command have long waited for to commence the operation. Ukraine increased its strikes on Russian supply depots and logistical routes in recent weeks in anticipation of more significant action.
UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT ZELENSKYY CLAIMS BEST SECURITY GUARANTEE FOR HIS COUNTRY IS TO JOIN NATO, EUROPEAN UNION
The U.S. and other Western allies have invested significant resources – time, money, weapons – into preparing Ukraine for the operation, which has the potential to shape the outcome of the war.
British military trainers put thousands of Ukrainian recruits through a grueling 35-day program to help bring them up to speed in anticipation of the counteroffensive. Programs and funding from nine countries overall aim to train 20,000 troops for deployment by the end of the year.
Zelenskyy insisted that Russia’s air superiority would ensure that a “large number” of his soldiers would die in the counteroffensive if they didn’t receive necessary countermeasures.
RUSSIA’S MEDVEDEV SAYS UK OFFICIALS ARE ‘LEGITIMATE MILITARY TARGETS’ FOR THEIR SUPPORT TO UKRAINE]
His unease over Ukraine’s total preparation for the operation prevented him from praising his allies, saying, “Let’s not compare who should be grateful to whom.” He underscored the need for Ukraine to succeed, as Russian victory will give “that beast” a “taste” for conquest that it will continue to try and feed.
“There is no place for weakness,” he said.
The Journal reported that Western allies do not believe the offensive on its own can end the war but that Ukraine’s success could demonstrate to Russian President Vladimir Putin that his plan to dig in and wait for Ukraine’s support to fade will not work out in the long term.
But Zelenskyy remains wary and aware that the support is not guaranteed, depending on how some elections shake out: Former President Donald Trump last month declined to say whether he would continue to back Ukraine but would instead end the war “within 24 hours” and claimed, “There’s a very easy negotiation to take place.”
“In a situation like this, when there is support, you are afraid of changes,” Zelenskyy said. “And to be honest, when you mention a change of administration, I feel the same way as any other person—you want changes for the better, but it can also be the other way around.”
Fox News’ Alex Hogan and James Levinson, Reuters and the Associated Press contributed to this report.
Read the full article here