President Volodymyr Zelensky said his Western backers failed to supply Ukraine with weapons in a timely manner, allowing Russia to build up its defenses. The delay is responsible for Ukraine’s lack of progress during its three-month-long counteroffensive.
In an interview with CNN’s Fareed Zakaria, Zelensy explained, “We — look, we waited too long. It’s true. No, I’m thankful to partners, to the United States, EU, other partners,” he said. “I’m thankful very much to President Biden and to Congress, but we have to understand: We waited too long, they put mines.”
He added that Western arms often do not arrive in Kiev for some time after Western nations announce they plan to provide the weapons. “Then when we been ready from the point of view of our partners because the decision to give us, for example, Bradley [Fighting Vehicles] and other kind of weapons, the decision, it doesn’t mean the result,” Zelensky explained.
In a recently released assessment of Ukraine’s military in February, former defense minister Oleksii Reznikov believed his army only had supplies for two to two and a half months of fighting remaining in Kiev’s stockpiles. “Our army would have been physically exhausted,” Reznikov reported.
In March, the New York Times reported that Washington was helping Kiev with war games for a counteroffensive that was likely to focus on Russian-held territory in southern Ukraine. Those military operations kicked off in early June. By then, Russia had several lines of well-fortified defenses secured with minefields.
When asked about launching the counteroffensive in late March, Zelensky shot down the idea. He said Ukraine can’t “start yet” and can’t “send our brave soldiers to the front line without tanks, artillery and long-range rockets.”
The Ukrainian leader expressed that view again in May. “We can advance with what we’ve got and I think we can be successful but we will lose a lot of people, I think that is unacceptable,” Zelensky said. “We need to wait, we need a bit more time.”
He added, “They will reinforce our counteroffensive and most importantly they will protect our people. We are expecting armored vehicles, they arrive in batches.”
Still, Washington pushed Kiev to launch the counter-offensive. As many American and Ukrainian officials predicted before the start of operations, on the battlefield, Kiev has found little success.