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Zelenskyy concerned about Russian offensive, expected around the end of May or June – CBS News

Zelenskyy also warned that without sufficient assistance, Russia’s aggression could quickly extend to Europe.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on 11 January 2023. Credit: Presidential Office
Zelenskyy concerned about Russian offensive, expected around the end of May or June – CBS News

In a meeting with CBS News in eastern Ukraine, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy shared insights into the current state of the war and the looming threats posed by Russia.

“We have stabilized the situation,” Zelenskyy remarked, noting improvements in Ukraine’s military capabilities despite shortages in artillery ammunition and other essential weapons. However, he was quick to highlight the absence of a significant counteroffensive from Russia, attributing it to their lack of success on the battlefield.

As spring approaches, Zelenskyy voiced concerns about an imminent major Russian offensive, expected around the end of May or June. Emphasizing the urgency of the situation, he called for immediate assistance from Ukraine’s partners, particularly the United States, to prepare for the anticipated escalation.

“And before that, we not only need to prepare, we not only need to stabilize the situation, because the partners are sometimes really happy that we have stabilized the situation,” Zelenskyy said of the US and Ukraine’s other backers. “No, I say we need help now.”

The Ukrainian president underscored the critical need for American Patriot missile defense systems and additional artillery to bolster Ukraine’s defenses. While expressing gratitude for the substantial support received from the US, Zelenskyy pointed out that a significant portion of the allocated funds remains within the American economy, with the production of military supplies taking place in the US

Amid ongoing partisan gridlock in the US over a $60 billion aid package, Zelenskyy acknowledged that the war in Gaza has diverted global attention and US aid away from Ukraine, benefiting Russia. He dismissed Russian President Vladimir Putin’s attempts to link Ukraine to a recent terrorist attack near Moscow, which ISIS claimed responsibility for, as “ridiculous.”

In the face of a grinding artillery war of attrition, Russia’s superior firepower and longer-range capabilities have put Ukrainian forces at a disadvantage, particularly in key battlegrounds such as Bakhmut, Avdiivka, Lysychansk, and Soledar. Zelenskyy highlighted the challenges faced by Ukrainian troops in combating an adversary with significantly greater artillery reach.

Amid preparations for the expected offensive, Zelenskyy inspected new underground bunkers near the city of Sumy, close to the Russian border. The region is on high alert due to a significant buildup of Russian troops across the border and recent attacks on nearby villages. “We don’t know what will be tomorrow. That’s why we have to prepare,” Zelenskyy stated.

Zelenskyy warned that Putin’s ambitions extend beyond Ukraine, aiming to restore the former Soviet Union’s imperial glory. He cautioned that Russian aggression could quickly spread to Europe and potentially involve NATO, including US forces, in the conflict. “This aggression, and Putin’s army, can come to Europe, and then the citizens of the United States, the soldiers of the United States, will have to protect Europe because they’re the NATO members,” he said.

Calling the invasion a war “against democracy, against values, against the whole world,” Zelenskyy emphasized the urgency of the situation and the need for continued support from the West.

“The United States don’t have the war going on,” he said, “But it can come to Europe, and to the United States of America. It can come very quickly to Europe.”

Reflecting on Putin’s motivations, Zelenskyy suggested that the Russian leader harbors a grudge over the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War era. “He believes in that. We don’t need to change his opinion. We need to change him. We need to replace him,” Zelenskyy concluded.

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