Russian offensive in northeastern Ukraine to intensify, Zelenskiy warns

  • 19 May, 09:27

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has said that Russia is likely to intensify its attacks on the country’s northeast and that Kyiv only has a quarter of the air defenses required to resist these attacks.

In an interview with AFP on Friday, Zelenskiy stated that Russian troops had made limited progress, advancing between 5 and 10 kilometers along the northeastern border before being halted by Ukrainian forces. However, he expressed concern that this might be just the beginning of a larger offensive, warning of potential “first wave” attacks.

"I won’t say it’s a great success (for Russia) but we have to be sober and understand that they are going deeper into our territory," he said, speaking from Kyiv on Friday in his first interview with foreign media since the offensive began.

Zelensky acknowledged that the situation in the Kharkiv region is under Ukrainian control but remains volatile, not yet stabilized. He renewed his urgent call for allies to provide more air defense systems and fighter jets to counter Russia’s aerial advantage, emphasizing that Ukraine currently has only 25% of the air defense capabilities needed.

Zelensky stated that Ukraine requires 120 to 130 F-16 fighter jets or comparable advanced aircraft to achieve air parity with Russia, effectively matching their aerial power. Russia announced opening a new front in Ukraine’s Kharkiv region last week. The attacks in this direction have intensified in recent days. 

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