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Zelenskyy: The US reaction to attacks on Russian refineries was not positive, but it is a fair play

In an interview with The Washington Post, the Ukrainian President confirmed a lack of air defense, saying critics of aid for Ukraine didn’t understand the stakes in the war.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on 11 January 2023. Credit: Presidential Office
Zelenskyy: The US reaction to attacks on Russian refineries was not positive, but it is a fair play

Answering the question of David Ignatius about the US reaction to the massive Ukrainian drone strikes against Russian oil refineries in February and March, Zelenskyy said that “the reaction of the US was not positive on this.”

But Washington couldn’t limit Ukraine’s deployment of its home-built weapons. “We used our drones. Nobody can say to us you can’t,” Zelensky stressed.

He argued that he could check Russian attacks on Ukraine’s energy grid only by making Russia pay a similar price.

“If there is no air defense to protect our energy system, and Russians attack it, my question is: Why can’t we answer them? Their society has to learn to live without petrol, without diesel, without electricity. … It’s fair.”

The attack proved to be successful, reducing Russian production of fuel and forcing Russia to start importing more fuel from Belarus:

Expert: Ukraine’s persistent drone strikes could disrupt Russian war machine, trigger fuel deficit

Zelenskyy added that “if there is no US support, it means that we have no air defense, no Patriot missiles, no jammers for electronic warfare, no 1155-millimeter artillery rounds. It means we will go back, retreat, step by step, in small steps.”

“No US aid, no choice but retreat,” Zelenskyy warns

He said that the Ukrainian army was forced to go back and make the front line shorter due to the shortage of artillery ammunition. “If it breaks, the Russians could go to the big cities.”

Zelensky summed up the zero-sum reality of this war: “If you are not taking steps forward to prepare another counteroffensive, Russia will take them. That’s what we learned in this war: If you don’t do it, Russia will do it.”

He also confirmed that Ukraine was running short of interceptors and other air-defense weapons to protect its cities and infrastructure, he responded: “That’s true. I don’t want Russia to know what number of air-defense missiles we have, but basically, you’re right. Without the support of Congress, we will have a big deficit of missiles. This is the problem. We are increasing our own air-defense systems, but it is not enough.”

President highlighted that Ukraine needs ATACM-300 missiles to strike Russian airfields in Crimea, from where Russians launch attacks against Ukraine, not the Russian territory. He said critics of aid for Ukraine didn’t understand the stakes in the war.

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