Monday, June 17, 2024

Ukraine wants NATO to shoot down Russian missiles

The US and its allies should shoot down Moscow's missiles, give Kiev more weapons, and allow Ukraine to strike Russia directly, President Volodymyr Zelensky has told the New York Times newspaper.

Zelensky spoke to the US outlet in Kiev on the last official day of his presidential term. He has sought to extend his term for the duration of martial law, which he declared due to the conflict with Russia. He demanded that NATO countries shoot down Russian missiles over Ukraine.

“So my question is, what’s the problem? Why can’t we shoot them down? Is it defense? Yes. Is it an attack on Russia? No. Are you shooting down Russian planes and killing Russian pilots? No. So what’s the issue with involving NATO countries in the war? There is no such issue,” Zelensky told the daily.

“Shoot down what’s in the sky over Ukraine,” he continued, adding, “And give us the weapons to use against Russian forces on the borders.”

Zelensky pointed to what the US and UK did in mid-April, when Iran targeted Israel with a drone and missile barrage. Both the US and EU have pushed back, saying the two situations are not comparable.

The Ukrainian leader also begged for Patriot air defense systems, asking if he could receive seven of them by the NATO summit in Washington.

“Do you think it is too much?” he asked.

“For a country that is fighting for freedom and democracy around the world today?”

Zelensky also dismissed any criticism of Ukrainian democracy, given the indefinite postponement of both parliamentary and presidential elections, by announcing that Kiev “doesn’t need to prove anything about democracy to anyone, because Ukraine and its people are proving it through their war, without words, without unnecessary rhetoric”.

With Russian troops advancing all along the front line, Zelensky and his aides have ramped up calls for more of everything – Patriot air defense systems and F-16 fighters in particular – but also demanded the lifting of restrictions on the use of Western-provided weapons to strike deep inside Russia.

The US and its allies have struggled to maintain the legal fiction that their missiles can only target Russian territory that Ukraine claims as its own – i.e. Crimea, Zaporozhye, Kherson, Donetsk, and Lugansk – though Western-supplied weapons have been used against Belgorod Region on multiple occasions, including the Christmas market massacre.

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