By RFE RL
(RFE/RL) — Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy says that “slower” arms shipments from Western countries are threatening the counteroffensive and called for a renewed drive to impose further sanctions on Moscow.
“All processes are becoming more complicated and slower — from sanctions to the provision of weapons,” Zelenskiy said in his evening address on September 8. “The longer it takes, the more people suffer,” he warned.
He called for Ukraine’s allies to send more powerful and long-range weapons to push back Russian forces.
“The more powerful and long-range it is, the faster the counteroffensive is,” he said.
Ukraine launched its counteroffensive in the south and east in June but has made limited gains as its troops encounter heavily fortified Russian defensive lines.
Zelenskiy and Ukrainian officials have frequently pushed back at criticism that the counteroffensive has been too slow.
In his comments on September 8, he said when partners ask about the counteroffensive, “My answer is that today our steps are probably faster than new sanctions packages.”
Zelenskiy’s request for new arms supplies came a day after U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken wrapped up a two-day visit to Ukraine during which he announced $1 billion of new wartime aid.
Commenting on sanctions, Zelenskiy said there had been a “pause” by Ukraine’s partners that has lasted too long, saying the world’s “sanctions offensive must resume.”
Zelenskiy said keeping the pressure on Moscow should focus on Russia’s energy sector, its access to microelectronics, and its financial sector.
He also said that Russia hopes next year’s U.S. presidential elections will reduce Washington’s support for Kyiv, insisting that it is “important that the American people support democracy, support Ukraine, support our struggle.”
He acknowledged that while Ukraine had bipartisan backing, there were “voices in the Republican Party who say that support for Ukraine should be reduced.”
Zelenskiy also declared he was prepared to hold elections, saying his government was ready to adjust to wartime constraints to make sure legitimate polls were held.
He acknowledged potential difficulties, including for refugees and people in Russian-occupied territories, and the need for soldiers on the front to have their say.
“For us the main thing is not to hold elections, but for them to be recognized,” he said.