Zelensky details Ukraine’s weapons demands

4 weeks ago 25

Kiev needs up to 130 modern aircraft from its foreign backers, the country’s president has said

Ukraine requires more air defense systems and warplanes from its Western backers in order to achieve parity with Russia, Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky has said.

Moscow has the upper hand in the battle for the skies, Zelensky acknowledged during an interview with AFP on Friday.

"I believe that today, we have about 25% of what we need to defend Ukraine. I’m talking about air defense,” he said.

As for warplanes, Kiev should be provided with between 120 to 130 modern aircraft, “so that Russia does not have air superiority,” the Ukrainian leader stated.

"In total, we need this fleet of F-16s in the number I am talking about, in order to have parity,” he added.

During his visit to Kiev earlier this week, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Washington is “intensely focused” on finding and delivering Patriots and other air defense systems to Ukraine. Zelensky told Blinken that his military needed two Patriot batteries to protect the Kharkov Region alone, where Russian forces have been advancing in recent weeks.

In late March, then-Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu said that at least five Patriots operated by Ukraine had been destroyed since the start of the year. Last month, Germany promised to provide Kiev with one more of the US-made air defense systems.

Earlier this week, Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said that the F-16s will arrive in Ukraine within the “next few months,” retracting her earlier claim that the planes will be there “within the next month.” Denmark and the Netherlands jointly promised to supply Kiev with 61 US-designed fourth generation jets in August 2023.

Reports in Western media in recent months explained delays in deliveries of the planes were due to complications in the training of Kiev’s pilots and the lack of proper airfields that would be able to host the F-16s in Ukraine.

Russia has warned repeatedly that foreign weapons being sent to Kiev will not prevent Moscow from achieving its military goals, and will merely prolong the fighting and increases the risk of a direct confrontation between Russia and NATO.

According to officials in Moscow, the provision of arms, intelligence sharing, and the training of Ukrainian troops mean that Western nations have already become de-facto parties to the conflict.

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