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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky says his country’s military needs more time to prepare an anticipated counteroffensive aimed at pushing back Russian occupying forces and opening a new chapter in the war that began more than 14 months ago with the Kremlin’s invasion. He said in an interview: “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.”
The interview was reportedly carried out in Kyiv with public service broadcasters who are members of Eurovision News, including the BBC.
A Ukrainian fightback against Russia’s invasion has been expected for weeks. Ukraine is receiving advanced Western weapons, including tanks and air defences, and Western training for its troops as it gears up for an expected assault.
The Kremlin’s forces are deeply entrenched in eastern areas of Ukraine with layered defensive lines reportedly up to 20 kilometres (12 miles) deep. Kyiv’s counteroffensive would likely face minefields, anti-tank ditches and other obstacles.
Russian President Vladimir Putin is counting on reducing the war to a so-called frozen conflict, with neither side able to dislodge the other, Zelensky said, according to the BBC.
He ruled out surrendering territory to Russia in return for a peace deal.
Military analysts have warned that Putin is hoping that the West’s costly support for Kyiv will begin to fray.
Ukraine’s Western allies have sent the country €65 billion (£57bn) in military aid to help thwart the Kremlin’s ambitions, and with no peace negotiations on the horizon, the alliance is gearing up to send more.
A senior NATO official said that in the coming months of the war, Ukraine will have the edge in quality but Russia has the upper hand in quantity.
Adm. Bob Bauer, chair of the NATO Military Committee, told reporters late on Wednesday: “The Russians are now starting to use very old materiel, very old capabilities.
“The Russians will have to focus on quantity.
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“Larger number of conscripts and mobilised people. Not well-trained. Older material, but large numbers, and not as precise, not as good as the newer ones.”
A counteroffensive is a major challenge, requiring the Ukrainian military to orchestrate a wide range of capabilities, including providing ammunition, food, medical supplies and spare parts, strung along potentially extended supply lines.
The front line extends more than 1,000 kilometres (600 miles).
The Kremlin wants Kyiv to acknowledge Russia’s sovereignty over Crimea and also recognise September’s annexation of the Ukrainian provinces of Donetsk, Kherson, Luhansk, and Zaporizhzhia.
Ukraine has rejected the demands and ruled out any talks with Russia until its troops pull back from all occupied territories.
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