Ukraine’s armed forces are ready to launch a counteroffensive to liberate Russian-occupied territories, President Volodymyr Zelensky said in an interview with the Wall Street Journal.
“I don’t know how long it will take and what price we will pay. Honestly, there are a number of scenarios, completely different. But we’re ready”, he said.
Zelensky stressed that the time has come, and although he would like to get more weapons from Western allies, Ukraine “cannot wait for months”. The head of state did not name a specific date, but on May 30 he said that the deadline for the start of the counteroffensive had been approved.
Zelensky also added that the AFU “believes very much in success”, but Russia still has air superiority, so the Ukrainian military could suffer “significant losses”.
He also acknowledged a shortage of air defense systems. Ukraine especially needs American Patriot anti-aircraft missile systems, which are capable of intercepting Russian missiles. Now the Ukrainian Armed Forces have two of them, but, according to Zelensky, at least 50 are needed to protect civilians and the military involved in the counterattack.
Zelensky warned that if Ukraine fails to stand up to Russia, “this animal, this beast will develop a taste” for conquest and will go further. He called on the international community to help his country as much as possible and to do everything possible to increase the isolation of Russia.
The U.S. and allies “have met Ukraine’s needs for a counteroffensive”, White House National Security Council Strategic Communications Coordinator John Kirby said the day before. “We’re confident that we’ve done everything we can. And when I say “we”, I don’t just mean the United States”, he said.
Kirby stressed that they are ready to supply Ukraine with “the systems, weapons, artillery and ammunition that the AFU will need for operations in the coming months”. However, the priority will remain air defense equipment.
Earlier, the head of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Mark Milley, said that modern tanks should play a decisive role in the counterattack by the AFU. He specified that when everything starts, tanks will act in coordination with artillery, infantry and other troops, according to the scheme, worked out during the training maneuvers, which the USA organized for Ukraine in Germany.
At the end of May, the commander of Ukraine’s ground troops, Oleksandr Syrsky, announced that the Ukrainian Armed Forces would soon switch to “active offensive operations”. Prior to that, Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council Oleksii Danilov said that a counteroffensive could begin “tomorrow, the day after tomorrow, or in a week”.