Top Ukraine aide says more arms needed for counter-offensive

President Zelenskyy's frantic travel mission to get more weapons before launching counter-attack needs to yield results, foreign affairs chief says

Ukrainian soldiers take part in urban combat exercises at a British Army military base in northern England on June 2, 
as the country prepares for its long-awaited offensive. AFP
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Ukraine’s spring offensive has been delayed because its military lacks sufficient arms to oust the Russian invaders, a top political aide has said.

Dr Ihor Zhovkva, deputy head of the President’s office, stated that the armed forces needed western powers to deliver more weapons and ammunition before the much-anticipated attack could begin.

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has undertaken a frenetic global travel itinerary, trying to get allies to commit weapons, visiting 10 countries and attending 60 meetings in the last month.

In an interview with the Wall Street Journal at the weekend he hinted that Ukraine might have to begin the counter-attack without sufficient arms.

“We would like to have certain things, but … can’t wait for months” to begin the operation that will involve 12 armoured brigades and an estimated 60,000 troops.

But Mr Zhovkva, who is also the country's chief foreign affairs adviser, suggested that Ukraine might be impeded by not having sufficient arms, and that his key task was to generate “more weapons, more support, more ammunition” for his country.

“If you want to start a successful counter-offensive you need everything at your disposal, including artillery, armoured vehicles and tanks, so probably we don’t have enough,” he told The Sunday Times.

Last week Mr Zelenskyy had his third personal meeting in a month with British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.

Britain has agreed to supply long-range Storm Shadow cruise missiles and key support that nudged the US to agree for Ukraine to be equipped with F-16 fighters.

“The UK is helping in enormous quantities, becoming a game changer in a very important weapon,” Mr Zhovkva said.

A Ukrainian serviceman in Mariupol in March 2022 before it fell to Russia. The country will want to retake the important port in its coming counter-offensive. AP

He added that Britain is “now one of the leading countries in showing real incentive and courage in how to really bring victory to my country”, but others needed to step up.

“More weapons is the No 1 topic in each and every conversation,” he said. “Every visit my President makes is about military help, further delivery of weapons. Every country knows what kind of weapons we need from them, to protect our territory, stop the rockets.”

He confirmed the thinking that Russia was attempting to deplete Ukraine’s stock of air defence weapons, including the sophisticated US-supplied Patriot missiles, by launching a barrage of missile and drone attacks.

Kyiv has been bombarded with 24 strikes in the last month, that included 400 Iranian-supplied Shaheed drones and 114 cruise missiles

However, Ukraine has given different accounts on its state of readiness, potentially to confuse the Russian leadership about when and where it might strike, with a minister suggesting last week the offensive had begun while Deputy Defence Minister Hanna Malyar said on Saturday that “military plans love silence”.

The wait for the attack is likely to prey on the nerves of both Russian soldiers and commanders defending the 1,000 mile front line with more than 200,000 troops.

Updated: June 05, 2023, 10:00 AM