Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky believes that NATO should shoot down Russian missiles flying over Ukraine without aircraft flying into Ukrainian airspace.

This will be a purely defensive tactic and will not create a risk of direct combat with Russian troops, he said in an interview with The New York Times published on Tuesday.

“So my question is: what's the problem? Why can't we shoot them down? Is this protection? Yes, it is. Is this an attack on Russia? No, it isn’t. Are you shooting down Russian planes and killing Russian pilots? No, you are not. So what is the problem with the involvement of NATO countries in the war? There is no such a problem,” he said.

“Shoot down what is flying in the sky over Ukraine,” he added. “And give us weapons that we can use against Russian forces on the borders.”


Zelensky also called on the alliance to provide more F-16 fighter jets, as well as Patriot air defense systems. “Can we get seven?” he said, adding that Ukraine needs more Patriot systems, but it will agree to this number to protect regions that are key to the national economy and the energy sector.

He suggested that a decision could be made when NATO leaders gather for a summit in Washington in July.

“Do you think this is too much for the NATO anniversary summit in Washington?” he asked. “For the country that is fighting for freedom and democracy all over the world today?”

When answering about potential ceasefire talks, he called for diplomacy that avoids direct talks with Russia but rallies countries around Ukraine's position for a possible peaceful settlement.

It will all start with plans to ensure the export of Ukrainian food products to developing countries, prisoner exchanges, measures to ensure the safety of the Russian-occupied nuclear power plant in southern Ukraine and the return of Ukrainian children, who, according to him, were abducted and taken to Russia.


Zelensky expressed hope that dozens of countries will support such an initiative when they gather at the Peace Summit in Switzerland in mid-June. And he again insisted on the plan for Ukraine's accession to NATO.

Moreover, he said that the ability to use Western-provided weapons to strike military targets inside Russia is essential for Ukraine’s success. According to him, only by using these weapons to destroy logistics hubs in Russia and Russian aircraft on Russian territory will Ukraine be able to effectively defend itself from the recent attack in the northeast, which threatens Kharkiv, Ukraine's second-largest city.

“How do we react when they strike our cities?” he said, noting that Ukraine could see Russian troops massing across the border before they attacked, but was powerless to strike at them. “They are acting calmly,” he added, “realizing that our partners are not giving us permission” to use their weapons to retaliate.

The main reason for the West's hesitation — fear of nuclear escalation — was exaggerated, Zelensky said, because Russian President Vladimir Putin would refrain from using nuclear weapons out of a sense of self-preservation.


“Maybe he's irrational, but he loves his life,” Zelensky said.

He also suggested that there is another reason for the West's hesitation: some countries seek to maintain trade and diplomatic ties with Russia. “Everyone keeps the door slightly ajar,” he said.

He said he doesn’t have much time to see his son and daughter, aged 11 and 19, but called spending time with them his “happiest moments.”

This article is re-printed with permission from Interfax-Ukraine. You can read the original here.

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