Zelenskyy presses allies to give Ukraine jets and tanks

Ukraine's president says country cannot repel Russia's attack without proper weaponry

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Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy urged western nations to give his country just a fraction of their tanks and planes to counter Russia's invasion, asking whether they were afraid of Moscow.

Several countries have promised to send anti-armour and anti-aircraft missiles as well as small arms but Mr Zelenskyy said Kyiv needed tanks, planes and anti-ship systems.

Ukraine needed just 1 per cent of Nato's aircraft and 1 per cent of its tanks and would not ask for more, he said.

“That is what our partners have, that is what is just gathering dust there. This is all for not only the freedom of Ukraine, but for the freedom of Europe,” he said in a late night video address after his defence and foreign ministers met US President Joe Biden in Warsaw on Saturday.

“As I was briefed, the talks touched on, in particular, these vital interests that I have mentioned earlier. It concerned what we really need, while this 'ping-pong' about who and how should hand over jets and other defensive weapons to us, continues,” he said, appearing visibly irritated.

“We've already been waiting 31 days. Who is in charge of the euro-Atlantic community? Is it really still Moscow, because of intimidation?” he said.

He said Ukraine could not defend itself against missiles without proper weapons and could not liberate the besieged city of Mariupol without tanks and combat jets.

“Ukraine can't shoot down Russian missiles with shotguns, machine guns, of which there are too many in the supplies. It's impossible to unblock Mariupol without a sufficient number of tanks, other armoured vehicles — and especially without jets,” he said.

“I've talked to the defenders of Mariupol today. I'm in constant contact with them. Their determination, heroism and firmness are astonishing. I'm thankful to every male and female defender. If only those who have been thinking for 31 days on how to hand over dozens of jets and tanks had 1 per cent of their courage.”

Mr Zelenskyy has repeatedly insisted that Russia will seek to expand further into Europe if Ukraine falls. Nato rejected his request for a no-fly zone over Ukraine on the grounds this could provoke a wider war.

Mr Zelenskyy spoke to Polish President Andrzej Duda and expressed disappointment that Russian-made fighter aircraft in Eastern Europe had not yet been transferred to Ukraine.

“The price of procrastination with planes is thousands of lives of Ukrainians,” Mr Zelenskyy's office quoted him as saying.

He said Poland and the US had both stated their readiness to make a decision on the planes.

Earlier this month, Washington rejected a surprise offer by Poland to transfer MiG-29 fighter jets to a US base in Germany to be used to replenish Ukraine's air force.

Updated: March 27, 2022, 2:45 PM
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