Zelensky 'ready' for offensive but fears major casualties

He spoke as the capital was this week hit by a series of aerial assaults, including a rare daytime one.

June 03, 2023 04:28 pm | Updated 06:33 pm IST - Kyiv, Ukraine

President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky. File

President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky. File | Photo Credit: Getty Images

Ukraine is ready to launch a long-awaited counteroffensive against Russia but fears large casualties due to Moscow's superior air power, President Volodydmyr Zelensky said in comments published Saturday.

Ukraine has said it is preparing for a major offensive against Moscow's occupation forces for months, but Mr. Zelensky has repeatedly warned that Kyiv needs more time and weapons.

"A large number of soldiers will die" if Kyiv is not given the weapons to counter Russian air power, Mr. Zelensky said.

While Kyiv was "ready" for the offensive and believes it will succeed, the Ukrainian leader said it would be "dangerous" to launch without more Western help to counter Russian air attacks.

He spoke as the capital was this week hit by a series of aerial assaults, including a rare daytime one.

"Everyone knows perfectly well that any counteroffensive without air superiority is very dangerous," Mr. Zelensky said.

"Imagine the feeling of a soldier who knows that he doesn't have a roof and he doesn't understand why neighbouring countries have one."

He said there was only one weapon — the U.S.-made Patriot air defence system — that could protect Ukrainian skies, asking for more to be delivered to Kyiv.

"The reality is 50 Patriots will, for the most part, prevent people from dying."

He said his enemy Russian President Vladimir Putin, who launched the invasion of Ukraine in February last year, "should be afraid of the strength of the world."

He called him a "cornered animal, he is afraid to lose his life".

Mr. Zelensky also expressed frustration at Western leaders ahead of the NATO summit in Vilnius next month, as pressure has grown to grant Ukraine a roadmap for joining the alliance.

"If we are not acknowledged and given a signal in Vilnius, I believe there is no point for Ukraine to be at this summit," he said.

He acknowledged that Kyiv understood it was not possible to join NATO during the Russian invasion.

The U.S. newspaper also showed footage of Mr. Zelensky in a white gown visiting a wounded soldier in hospital who had lost both hands.

Top News Today

Sign in to unlock member-only benefits!
  • Access 10 free stories every month
  • Save stories to read later
  • Access to comment on every story
  • Sign-up/manage your newsletter subscriptions with a single click
  • Get notified by email for early access to discounts & offers on our products
Sign in


Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide by our community guidelines for posting your comments.

We have migrated to a new commenting platform. If you are already a registered user of The Hindu and logged in, you may continue to engage with our articles. If you do not have an account please register and login to post comments. Users can access their older comments by logging into their accounts on Vuukle.