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Zelenskyy says Ukraine needs weapons from allies to continue defense against Russia

Zelenskyy says Ukraine needs weapons from allies to continue defense against Russia

KYIV, Ukraine — Ukraine urgently needs artillery and air defenses from its allies in order to continue defending itself from Russia, said Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, rejecting the idea that the war had reached a stalemate two years on from Russias invasion.

Speaking to NBC News on Sunday from the sidelines of the “Ukraine. Year 2024” forum in Kyiv, Zelenskyy said Russian President Vladimir Putin wants to wage a war farther into Europe, toward Poland and the Baltic states. Saturday marked two years since Russia invaded Ukraine, which has seen 31,000 soldiers killed in the conflict — a tally Zelenskyy shared on Sunday at the forum.

“If the world will not stop him, he will do it till 2030,” Zelenskyy said, referring to the near certainty that Putin will secure another presidential term.

When discussing the Ukrainian military’s recent loss of the key city of Avdiivka, Zelenskyy avoided directly blaming the retreat on a lack of ammunition from Ukraine’s key allies, but stressed the need to rearm and destroy Russia’s air fleet after the country dropped 3,200 bombs in the area, he said.

Zelenskyy wants his allies to know that if they are ready to provide Ukraine with air defenses, he can use it to save “civilians, historical centers, hospitals, and also it can defend [against] Russians and defeat also this fleet.”

“So, if partners are ready to do it — not so slow way — stop being afraid of Russia,” he said. “If they are ready, we will have success. If not, they will continue, continue, continue [to] attack us.”

Zelenskyy said he hopes the U.S. wants Ukraine to win the war, as there is no alternative to trusting the U.S. will deliver on promises of aid.

“We count on our partners, and I hope that it’s not only words, that really it’s not about how to make Russians more weak, it’s about how to make us more strong,” Zelenskyy said.

Read more on this story at and watch “NBC Nightly News ” tonight at 6:30 p.m. ET/5:30 p.m. CT.

U.S. aid for Ukraine has been stalled in Congress since late last year. On Feb. 13, the Senate overwhelmingly passed a $95 billion aid package for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan. But House Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., has refused to put the Senate package on the House floor, saying Congress needs to enact tough new border policies before supplying Ukraine with more aid.

To shore up support for Ukraine in the wake of the death of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, the White House announced 500 new sanctions on Russia Friday. President Joe Biden has openly blamed Putin for Navalny’s death.

Friday’s sanctions are the most extensive since the invasion began two years ago, and they target individuals connected to Navalny’s imprisonment, as well as Russia’s financial sector, defense industrial base, procurement networks and sanctions evaders across several continents.

Speaking to a delegation of senators led by Majority Leader Chuck Schumer in Lviv, Zelenskyy said Friday that U.S. support was “fundamental to our defense both in terms of its content and the signal that support or nonsupport for this package sends to the world.”

He added that on the battlefield there was a “direct correlation” between the amount of weapons Ukraine is able to access and “the results achieved by our common enemy,” referring to Russia.

“Sufficiency of artillery, sufficiency of long-range capabilities are key things for us,” he added on Friday.

In Kharkiv, in the northeast, Russian forces have been mounting offensives for weeks, trying to move the front line farther from the region’s border with Russia and reducing the number of Ukrainian strikes on Russian border cities.

In the key southern region of Zaporizhzhia, Russian war bloggers and Western analysts also reported renewed fighting in the town of Robotyne, which Ukraine’s troops liberated last August in what at the time was seen as an important win that could get Kyiv closer to disrupting Russia’s land bridge to occupied Crimea.

In a dramatic shake-up of Ukraine’s military leadership earlier in February, Zelenskyy replaced his top military general, Army Cmdr. Valeriy Zaluzhnyi, citing the need for “urgent changes” following months of reported tension between the two over strategy.

Zaluzhnyi, a popular figure both within the military and among Ukraine’s civilians, was replaced with Col. Gen. Oleksandr Syrskyi, who previously led the army’s ground forces.

Zaluzhnyi was rumored to have fallen out with Zelenskyy over a push for the mass mobilization of civilians to bolster the military ranks.

At a press conference Saturday with world leaders, Zelenskyy commended the “choice made by Ukrainians of different ages, different professions, and from different regions” to unite “in lines to the military enlistment offices, and then in one trench on the front line.”

“Two years ago, we met an enemy landing force here with fire,” he added, saying that there could only be one possible outcome to the war — peace, on Ukrainian terms, and military victory.

Zelenskyy told NBC News that he does not want the war to last for centuries and that a large weapons shipment is needed from allies so Ukraine can continue defending its people.

He hopes the upcoming elections in the United States won’t affect its policy on Ukraine.

“I hope that the policy of the country will not change, and it will not depend on who will be the president,” Zelenskyy said.

“If the policy of United States will change, we have to be ready.”

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