June 3, 2023 | 2:45 p.m
Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelensky said he was confident his country’s counter-move would be effective against Russia.
AFP via Getty Images
Ukraine’s president said on Saturday he was confident his war-ravaged country’s recent counter-offensive would end in victory against Russia despite an “unprecedented” barrage of missile and drone attacks in recent weeks.
“We strongly believe that we will succeed,” Volodymyr Zelensky said in an interview with the Wall Street Journal.
“I don’t know how long it will take. To be honest, it could go in many completely different ways. But we’ll do it while we’re ready.”
This optimism was echoed by Ukraine’s deputy defense minister, who described Russia’s use of ballistic missiles in May.as a strategic last resortstating that Ukraine’s air defense system was “more than 90 percent effective against attacks”.
In addition to cruise missile strikes, Volodymyr Havrilov said, Ukraine faced continuous ballistic missile attacks in May, especially in urban centers including the capital Kiev.
“Their main objective is to stop our counterattack and target the decision-making centers,” said Havrilov, who was attending the Shangri-La International Security Conference in Singapore on Saturday.
Zelensky, 45, hopes the counteroffensive to reclaim territory will change the dynamics of the war that has raged since Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022.
But the Ukrainian leader admitted that “a large number of soldiers will die” on the front lines of the new effort because of Russia’s superior air power.
Last month, Zelensky said Ukraine needed to wait for more Western armored vehicles to arrive before launching a counterattack, and that it was on a diplomatic mission to bolster Western support, which he said was key for Ukraine to succeed in its plans.
He also said that Ukraine urgently needs more US Patriot missile defense systems to protect civilians from air attacks. Zelensky told the outlet that he would have liked to have the weapons before launching the counterattack.
“We’d like to get certain things, but we can’t wait for months,” he said, adding that if his country is unable to fend off Russia, “this animal, the beast, will develop a taste” for further invasions of other countries.
Russia has parcels of Ukrainian territory in the east, south and southeast of the country.
On Saturday, the Ukrainian military said in a daily briefing that fighting in the Marinka district of Donetsk region in the east was the focus of the fighting. All 14 Russian forces’ attacks there were repelled by Ukrainian forces.
As optimistic as Zelensky is about Ukraine’s counterattack, he admitted to the newspaper that he worries about the 2024 US presidential election.
President Biden, 80, has sent more than $37 billion to the war-torn country, including another $300 million for weapons earlier this month. Meanwhile, former President Trump, the Republican frontrunner in the 2024 election, bragged that he would end the Ukraine war “within 24 hours” of leading peace talks, but the 76-year-old declined to say how.
“In such a situation, when there is support, you are afraid of changes,” Zelensky said. “And to be honest, when you mention a change in management, I feel the same way as everyone else – you want changes for the better, but it can also be the other way around.”
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