As Russia Makes 'Major Gain,' a Warning From Zelensky

Ukraine president says 'artificial deficit' of weapons could give Russia too much breathing room
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Feb 17, 2024 11:30 AM CST
As Russia Makes 'Major Gain,' a Warning From Zelensky
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, left, and US Vice President Kamala Harris pose at the end of a joint press conference at the Munich Security Conference in Munich on Saturday.   (Tobias Schwarz/Pool via AP)

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky warned allies on Saturday that an "artificial deficit" of arms for his country risks giving Russia breathing space, highlighting the need for artillery and long-range weapons after his military chief said he was withdrawing troops from the eastern city of Avdiivka, "the first major gain Russian forces have achieved since May of last year," reports the New York Times. Zelensky spoke to the Munich Security Conference, an annual gathering of security and foreign policy officials, per the AP. Ukraine is back on the defensive against Russia in the nearly two-year-old war, hindered by low ammunition supplies and a shortage of personnel. "Ukrainians have proven that we can force Russia to retreat," Zelensky said. "We can get our land back, and [Russian President Vladimir] Putin can lose, and this has already happened more than once on the battlefield."

"Our actions are limited only by ... our strength," he added, pointing to the situation in Avdiivka. Ukrainian commander Col. Gen. Oleksandr Syrskyi said early Saturday that he was withdrawing troops from the city, where outnumbered Ukrainian defenders battled a Russian assault for four months, to avoid encirclement and save soldiers' lives. "Unfortunately, keeping Ukraine in the artificial deficit of weapons, particularly in deficit of artillery and long-range capabilities, allows Putin to adapt to the current intensity of the war," Zelensky said. "The self-weakening of democracy over time undermines our joint results." The president said the troop withdrawal, however, was "a correct decision" and emphasized the priority of saving soldiers.

He suggested that Russia has achieved little, adding it has been attacking Avdiivka "with all the power that they had" since October and lost thousands of soldiers. "We're just waiting for weapons that we're short of," he added. Ukraine's European allies are appealing to the US Congress to approve a package that includes aid for Ukraine—$60 billion that would go largely to US defense entities to manufacture missiles, munitions, and other military hardware for the battlefields in Ukraine. The package faces resistance from House Republicans. US Vice President Kamala Harris said after meeting Zelensky later Saturday in Munich that "it is in the strategic interest of the United States to continue our support." "History shows us: If we allow an aggressor like Putin to take land with impunity, they keep going. The other would-be aggressors then become emboldened," Harris said. More here.

(More Russia-Ukraine war stories.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.