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Zelenskyy says Ukraine still needs time before counter-offensive

The Ukrainian president said that while his country was ready ‘mentally, in terms of equipment ‘not everything has arrived yet’.

UKRAINE SAID IT needs more time before beginning a highly anticipated counter-offensive against Russian forces, in an interview published by the BBC today, as the UK pledged to send Storm Shadow missiles to help Kyiv.

Britain’s decision will make it the first country to provide longer-range missiles to Kyiv, which has been training a new contingent of forces and stockpiling Western-supplied munitions and hardware.

Analysts say these steps will be key to reclaiming territory captured by Russia, although the timing of the counteroffensive remains a question.

“Mentally we’re ready…,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy told the BBC. “In terms of equipment, not everything has arrived yet.

“With (what we have) we can go forward and be successful. But we’d lose a lot of people. I think that’s unacceptable. So we need to wait. We still need a bit more time,” he was quoted as saying.

The head of Russia’s Wagner private military company Yevgeny Prigozhin meanwhile accused Zelenskyy of being “dishonest” in the interview.

Ukraine’s counter-offensive “is in full swing”, Prigozhin said.

Kyiv has spent months preparing to claw back ground in the eastern Donetsk and Lugansk regions, as well as the Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions in the south.

Counter attacks in Bakhmut

Some voices are calling for peace talks with Russia, but in the BBC interview Zelenskyy rejected any possibility of land concessions.

“Why should any country of the world give Putin its territory?” he said.

Russia was “counting on” a “frozen conflict”, he warned.

But Western sanctions are having an effect on Russia’s defence industry, he stressed. “We already see that they’ve reduced shelling per day in some areas.”

A senior Ukrainian military official said earlier this week that Russian forces had dropped back from some areas near Bakhmut after limited counter-attacks by Kyiv’s forces around the eastern city.

Prigozhin, whose forces are on the front line of the battle for Bakhmut, acknowledged that some Ukrainian units were successfully breaking through in some areas.

“The Ukrainian army’s plan is in action… All the units which have been trained, which have received weapons, tanks and everything they need are already fully engaged,” he said.

Prigozhin is involved in a long-running dispute with Russian military chiefs over ammunition supplies for his fighters and he has threatened to pull them out of Bakhmut.

 – © AFP 2023

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