Zelensky: No Counter-Offensive Until West Sends More Artillery, Tanks, Rockets

Ukrainian Presidency / Handout/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

There will be no Ukrainian counter-offensive until Kyiv’s Western “partners” send more weapons and ammunition, President Volodymyr Zelensky has warned.

In comments to Japanese media quoted by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), President Zelensky insisted: “We can’t start yet, we can’t send our brave soldiers to the front line without tanks, artillery and long-range rockets.”

“If you have the political will, you can find a way to help us. We are at war and can’t wait,” he added, emphasising that Ukrainian forces are also “waiting for ammunition to arrive from our partners.”

Zelensky said the situation in the east of his country, where Russian offensive operations have been concentrated after a series of reverses near Kyiv (Kiev), the Kharkiv (Kharkov) Oblast, and Kherson, was “not good”.

Of course, any such public comments by Zelensky must be understood in the context of a possible effort to deceive or otherwise misdirect Russian commanders, with the British government suggesting that Russia has in fact been losing its “limited momentum” over recent days and the U.S.-based Institute for the Study of War (ISW) speculating that the Ukrainians may now be “well positioned to regain the initiative and launch counter-offensives in critical sectors of the current frontline.”

Britain’s Ministry of Defence (MoD) said last week that it appeared Russia’s efforts to take the Donbas city of Bakhmut, which has been the scene of the war’s fiercest fighting for months on end now, had “largely stalled” due to “extreme attrition” of the Wagner Group mercenaries and regular forces involved in the fighting, and that their focus was shifting to nearby areas such as the Svatove-Kremina sector and Kupiansk (Kupyansk) in the Kharkiv Oblast.

The British say they believe that this is not because the Russians hope they can make significant breakthroughs in these areas — although recapturing Kupiansk, the former administrative capital of the Kharkov Military–Civilian Administration, from which they were almost completely routed last September, would be their first major success in the region for many months — but because they believe they need to establish a more defensible “security zone” along the north-eastern front.

“Russia’s intent in the north-east likely remains defensive,” the MoD suggested, speculating that Russian commanders “probably fear this is one of the sectors where Ukraine could attempt major offensive operations.”

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