The Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskystressed that the war with Russia a new stage has begunin which winter is expected to complicate operations after a counteroffensive in the summer that did not achieve the desired results due to a shortage of weapons and ground troops.
But he assured that despite the setbacks, Ukraine will not give up.
“We have a new phase of the war, it is a fact”Zelensky said in an exclusive interview with The Associated Press in Kharkiv, northeastern Ukraine, after a morale-boosting visit to the area. “Winter as a whole is a new phase of war”.
On whether he was satisfied with the results of the counteroffensive, he gave a complex answer.
“You see, We are not giving in. I am satisfied. We fight against the second (best) army in the world. “I am satisfied,” he stated, referring to the Russian armed forces. But he added: “We are losing people, I am not satisfied. We didn’t get all the weapons we wanted, I can’t be satisfied, but I can’t complain too much either.”
Zelensky said he fears that the war between Israel and Hamas eclipse which is recorded in Ukraineas contrasting political agendas and limited resources put arms shipments to kyiv at risk.
And to these concerns is added the tumult that inevitably occurs during an election year in the United States with its possible consequences for his country, which has received the support of the international community in general after the Russian invasion of February 24, 2022.
The highly anticipated counteroffensive, which featured tens of billions of dollars worth of Western military aid, including heavy weapons, did not produce the expected gains. Now Ukrainian authorities fearfully wonder whether subsequent aid will be equally generous.
At the same time, ammunition reserves are dwindling, threatening to halt Ukrainian operations on the battlefield.
With a new winter imminent in the country at war, military leaders must face new but familiar challenges as the conflict moves toward the end of its second full year. There are freezing temperatures and frozen fields that leave soldiers exposed. And there is the renewed threat of Russian air assaults on infrastructure and civilians in cities.
On November 25, Moscow launched its largest drone attack of the warmost of the 75 Iranian-made Shahed drones were aimed at kyiv, a disturbing harbinger of things to come in the coming months.
“That’s why a winter war is difficult“Zelensky said.
He gave a frank assessment of the summer counteroffensive.
“We wanted faster results. From that perspective, unfortunately, we did not obtain the desired results. That is a fact“, lament.
Ukraine did not get all the weapons it needed from its allies, and limitations on the size of its military force made rapid advance impossible, he added.
“There is not enough power to achieve the desired results more quickly. But this does not mean that we should capitulate, that we should give up,” Zelensky said. “We trust our actions. We fight for what is ours.”
However, the last few months left some positive resultsaccording to the Ukrainian president.
Ukraine achieved some small territorial advances against a better armed and fortified enemy, he asserted.
Besides, The power of the Russian Black Sea Fleet has decreased after Ukrainian attacks that penetrated its air defenses and hit its headquarters in occupied Crimea, he added.
And a temporary corridor created by kyiv after Russia withdrew from a wartime agreement to ensure export security still operates.
But Zelensky is not focused on the past but on the next stage, raising domestic arms production.
A significant portion of the budget is allocated to it, but current production is far from sufficient for the war. Now, Zelensky hopes Western allies, including the United States, will offer favorable loans and contracts to meet that goal.
“That’s the way out”Zelensky said, highlighting that nothing terrifies Russia more than a militarily self-sufficient Ukraine.
The last time he met with the president Joe Bidenlawmakers and top US officials, made an urgent request: give Ukraine cheap loans and licenses to manufacture American weapons.
“Give us those opportunities and we will build”, he asked them. “Whatever time and effort it takes, we will do it, and we will do it very quickly.”
Zelensky is concerned that the upheaval in the Middle East, the most violent in decades, threatens to steal global attention and the resources Ukraine needs to defend itself.
“We can already see the consequences of the international community being diverted due to the tragedy in the Middle East”, he indicated. “You have to be blind not to recognize it.”
Ukrainians understand that “we must fight for attention to the regular war,” he stressed. “We must not allow people to forget the war here.”
The change of focus, he said, could mean less economic and military aid for your country. Apparently in order to alleviate that fear, American and European officials They have maintained their visits to kyiv after the October 7 attack in Israel.
But Zelensky added that the shift in attention worries him.
“Attention equals help. Without attention there is no help. We fight for every second of attention“, he claimed. “Without attention, there may be weakness in the (US) Congress.”
Regarding the imminent campaigns for the presidency and Congress, in which Biden must respond to the skepticism caused by his solid support for kyiv, Zelensky acknowledged that “elections always produce a shock, it is totally understandable”.
A recent survey of the AP in the United States revealed that almost half of the people think that too much is spent in Ukraine. A growing number of Republicans favor not sending more aid, and it is unclear if or when a White House call for additional aid will receive legislative approval.
Asked about this, Zelensky simply noted that “the Americans’ choice is the Americans’ choice”.
But he argued that by helping Ukraine, Americans are also helping themselves.
“In the case of Ukraine, if resistance fails due to lack of aid and shortage of weapons and funds, it will mean that Russia will likely invade NATO countries.“, said. “And then the American children will fight”.
Recently, Zelensky has sought to ensure that the Ukrainian war machine works as it should with a government reorganization. One of his goals is to combat bribery in a post-Soviet institution plagued by corruption as a prelude to joining the European Union.
He has to know, he said, how weapons, supplies, food and even clothing get to the front… and what doesn’t.