The Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine (C-in-C AFU), Valery Zaluzhny, claims that Ukraine's summer offensive needs an increase in every type of weapon to if it is to advance anywhere near as quickly as the world seems to expect.
He made this statement during a rare interview with The Washington Post, published on Friday, June 30.
Zaluzhny voiced his frustration over the fact that Ukraine, despite having significant Western support, has not received modern fighter jets it has been calling for and, yet, is expected to swiftly reclaim occupied territory from the Russians.
He stressed the criticality of air superiority for launching offensives, a requirement his Western allies acknowledge. However, the expected American-made F-16s are unlikely to arrive earlier than the fall, even in the best-case scenario.
The general emphasized the importance of matching the enemy's artillery firepower, but, due to limited resources, his troops have often been outgunned, with the enemy often firing ten times as many artillery shells during a battle.
"It pi**es me off,” Zaluzhny states, when he hears critics saying that Ukraine's anticipated counteroffensive in the eastern and southern regions is moving at a slower pace than anticipated.
Nevertheless, Zaluzhny emphasized that his troops have been making progress every day, even when it's just a modest gain of 500 meters.
“This is not a show. It's not a show the whole world is watching and betting on or anything. Every day, every meter is given by blood.”
He further commented that without sufficient supplies, these plans become entirely impossible to achieve. "But they are being carried out. Yes, maybe not as fast as the participants in the show, the observers, would like, but that is their problem."
Every day, the C-in-C of the AFU is burdened with the same pressing questions: When will Ukraine's Western allies deliver the necessary weaponry, especially additional ammunition and the F-16s? How can he be expected to accomplish his mission without them?
Zaluzhny disclosed that he regularly discusses his concerns with his American counterpart, General Mark Milley, whom he deeply admires and considers a friend. They often talk multiple times a week and their conversations can be lengthy.
He stated that Milley fully understands and shares his worries, and Zaluzhny believes that Milley can assist him in addressing these concerns. During their recent conversation on Wednesday, Zaluzhny explicitly mentioned the specific quantity of additional artillery shells he requires on a monthly basis.
During these discussions, the AFU’s top man candidly highlights the potential consequences of the situation. He explained, "We have an agreement: we stay in touch 24/7. 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.'"
But "it’s not Milley who decides whether we get planes or not," Zaluzhny stressed.
"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."
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