Ukraine’s counteroffensive plans have been slowed by a lack of adequate firepower, from modern fighter jets to ammunition for artillery guns, the country’s military commander-in-chief Valery Zaluzhny has said.
Complaining about the slow deliveries of weapons promised by the West, Zaluzhny said in an interview with the Washington Post published on Friday that Kyiv’s Western supporters would not themselves launch an offensive without air superiority, but Ukraine is still awaiting F-16 fighters promised by its allies.
“I do not need 120 planes. I’m not going to threaten the whole world. A very limited number would be enough,” he told the newspaper, saying that it “pi**es me off” when some in the West complain about the slow start and progress of the push against Russian forces.
“They are needed. Because there is no other way. Because the enemy is using a different generation of aviation,” he said.
He also complained he has a fraction of the artillery shells that Russia is firing.
Zaluzhny said he is in constant contact with Western partners, like Pentagon Joint Chiefs Chairman General Mark Milley, who are keenly aware of Ukraine’s needs.
“We have an agreement: 24/7, we’re in touch. So, sometimes I can call up and say, ‘If I don’t get 100,000 shells in a week, 1,000 people will die. Step into my shoes,’” he told the Washington Post.
But Milley alone can’t make the decision, and the delays are deadly, Zaluzhny said.
“It’s just that while that decision is being made, in the obvious situation, a lot of people die every day – a lot. Just because no decision has been made yet,” he said.
“This is not a show,” he added. “It’s not a show the whole world is watching and betting on or anything. Every day, every metre is given by blood,” he said.
The Washington, DC-based think tank, the Institute for the Study of War (ISW), said on Friday that Zaluzhny responded to a question regarding military equipment losses in battles with Russian forces saying that Ukraine used its tanks and armoured cars in combat and did not save them up for “parades”.