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Main War — Counteroffensive, Western support and the fate of Crimea: key points from Zelensky's briefing


Counteroffensive, Western support and the fate of Crimea: key points from Zelensky's briefing

23 Aug, 2023
Counteroffensive, Western support and the fate of Crimea: key points from Zelensky's briefing

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The President answered the journalist's questions about the situation in the war and its prospects for conclusion.

Western partners do not need to be "convinced" that Ukraine needs their support. However, there is still a constant shortage of weapons on the frontlines. Crimea will be deoccupied, but there are no guarantees that the next Independence Day will not also be marked by military events. President Volodymyr Zelensky discussed these points during a briefing dedicated to the third summit of the Crimean Platform.


On support from the United States.

According to the President, Ukraine currently does not "need" to persuade Western partners that Ukraine requires their support in defense against Russian aggression.

"I see constant support from our partners. We are in ongoing dialogue with President Biden and other partners from the European Union and our friends from other continents. Right now, the Head of the Presidential Office is talking with Jake Sullivan, various issues are being raised – about the 'peace formula,' weapon supplies, and strengthening air defense," he noted.

The President acknowledged that "some dangerous voices" in the U.S. Congress will indeed pose challenges. However, in Zelensky's view, it is important that Ukraine currently enjoys bipartisan support in Congress, support from the White House, and strong overall support within American society.

Regarding the prospect of receiving American long-range missiles, the President assured that work is currently being done on this matter.

"We are lobbying through various channels, but we will achieve results. Just as we received serious missiles, we are already using them, and that's no longer a secret. We already have Storm Shadow. We received Scalp; they are operational, and the military is very satisfied – almost a hundred percent hits on the enemy. As for other long-range weaponry, we are working on it. It's not easy, but I'm confident there will be results, just as with the fighter jets," he stated.


Regarding Western fighter jets.

Regarding Western fighter jets, there is a "clear agreement" with Denmark for 19 fighter jets of the F-16 model. They will be delivered in several stages.

"Unfortunately, this all takes time. We need to train our pilots and other specialists. We will separately build infrastructure for modern fighter jets," noted the President.

With the Netherlands, an agreement has been reached that Ukraine can count on 42 aircraft. Out of these, 18 Ukrainians will undergo training. Ukraine will receive the rest when pilots are ready.

Zelensky emphasized that this outcome is a significant achievement, as initially Ukraine hoped to acquire at least 12 Western-style aircraft.

Furthermore, Ukrainian experts are currently assessing the suitability of the Swedish Gripen fighter jets for Ukraine. If they prove suitable and if the Swedish government is willing to discuss this, Ukraine will then negotiate a training mission using these aircraft.


Regarding the situation on the frontlines

President Zelensky stated, "As for the counteroffensive... I believe in our people, in our Defense Forces. Of course, everyone in the world would like things to happen faster, but we're working as we can. We will try to de-occupy our cities and villages as much and as quickly as possible." He noted that the issue of a shortage of combat equipment remains acute, so it must be used very cautiously and economically.

"In terms of our southern direction, as you know, it's all heavily mined and challenging. People often go on foot - they often walk to avoid losing the limited armored vehicles. If we had a surplus, of course, we could take risks. When you know that a brigade is getting a hundred armored vehicles and then, out of them - bam! - 20 need repairs, you're constantly in a situation with an incomplete set. But no one complains, everyone fights, moves forward," explained Zelensky.

The President also admitted that the military command had approached him "regarding the possibility of mobilizing more people" to the frontlines than currently available.


Regarding the de-occupation of Crimea

The President ruled out the possibility of Ukraine exchanging its occupied territories, including Crimea, for the opportunity of unimpeded NATO membership.

"Crimea is Ukraine. We are fighting for Crimea and for all other temporarily occupied Ukrainian territories. We do not exchange our territories for any membership in any alliance," emphasized the head of state. President Zelensky promised that after Crimea's liberation, it will be well defended, economic recovery will commence, but it won't become a tourist oasis anymore.

"I've heard that after de-occupation, Crimea will become a tourist oasis. That's not true. And no one will allow Crimea to be occupied again. So, there will be a fleet. And military defense of Crimea will be present. Regarding the de-occupation of Crimea: I'm not sure if we have the right to publicly discuss the military de-occupation of Crimea today," he said.

According to Zelensky, there are already major companies willing to participate in the economic recovery of the peninsula after its de-occupation. But it's not just about economics.

"There are specific steps, we are working on them - on de-occupation, on security. Our Ministry of Internal Affairs is working separately, along with people based on the Crimean Platform office. After de-occupation, a temporary military administration will operate on the territory of Crimea. For us, the integration of the peninsula into society is very important. Integration of the peninsula into Ukraine. They lived without Ukraine on the peninsula for nine and a half years. It's a challenging task," noted the President.


Regarding the end of the war and the punishment of Putin

"I cannot say if there will be a third Independence Day during the war," admitted the President when asked about the timeline for ending the war. When asked about the punishment of war criminals and personally Vladimir Putin, Zelensky acknowledged that lately, this topic has receded into the background in the informational space, and it shouldn't be that way.

"This issue will be loudly raised at the UN General Assembly in New York. If Ukraine doesn't raise this issue, everyone will quietly forget," noted the head of state

The Odessa Journal

The Odessa Journal

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