Ukraine is ready to launch its much-anticipated counteroffensive in the war against Russia, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in an exclusive video interview with The Wall Street Journal published Saturday.
“I think that, as of today, we are ready to do it. We would like to have certain things, but we can’t wait for it for months,” Zelensky said of the long-awaited military maneuvers.
The president said he believes the counteroffensive will be successful, but he’s not sure how long it will take.
“Everyone knows perfectly well that any counteroffensive in the world without control in the skies is very dangerous. Imagine what a military man feels, knowing he does not have a ‘roof’ and he can’t understand how neighboring countries have that,” Zelensky said about his dogged campaign for allies to supply Ukraine with F-16 fighter jets.
According to the WSJ, Zelensky acknowledged Russia’s superiority in the skies, adding that a lack of protection against Russian air power means “a large number of soldiers will die” during the counteroffensive.
“If everybody knows we need the protection for our skies, then what’s the issue with (giving us) the modern jets? What is the issue?” he implored.
On NATO: Zelensky also told the newspaper he understood Ukraine would not be able to join NATO while its war against Russia is ongoing, saying, “We do not want to be in NATO during the war. It’s too late now. We should have been there before.”
All NATO allies agree that “Ukraine will become a member of the alliance,” NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Thursday ahead of the alliance’s next summit, which is set to take place in Vilnius, Lithuania, on July 11 and 12.
Zelensky, who hopes to secure a pledge at the summit that Ukraine can join NATO after the war, told the WSJ, “If some countries do not see us in NATO and we do not get a signal in Vilnius, I think there is no point for Ukraine to be at this summit.”
Asked if he thought that signal would be given, Zelensky replied, “I don’t know. I’ll be honest with you, I don’t know.”