Kyiv– Ukraine’s ongoing counteroffensive has allowed its forces to take the ‘initiative’ in the war against Russian invaders, but ‘we want to do it faster’, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy told Martha Raddatz of ABC News in a high-profile new interview premiering on “Good Morning America” Thursday.
“What is your assessment of how the counteroffensive is currently going? Raddatz, ABC News’ chief global affairs correspondent, asked Zelenskyy during the meeting from his country’s capital.
He said he supported his army’s assessment that the operation, which began in earnest last month, “was going to go ahead as planned”.
“We would all like to see the counter-offensive accomplished in a shorter time, but there is the reality,” he said. “We are moving forward. We are not stuck in one place.”
While Ukraine has succeeded in liberating a number of villages in recent weeks, progress has not reached the lightning speed of last fall’s campaign – which saw Ukraine reclaim thousands of square kilometers of territory in a week in the Kharkiv region, Ukrainian officials told the time.
“Today the initiative is on our side,” Zelenskyy told Raddatz. “We are moving forward, but not as fast [as we would like]. But we are moving forward.”
Raddatz also asked if Ukraine could succeed without the F-16s, the fighter jet Ukraine has requested but not yet supplied and if the US and others have been too slow to provide military hardware. essential.
More on Raddatz’s interview with Zelenskyy in Ukraine will air on ABC’s “World News Tonight with David Muir” on Thursday and on “This Week with George Stephanopoulos” on Sunday.
“The F-16 or whatever equipment we need will give us the opportunity to go faster, save more lives, hold out longer,” Zelenskyy said. “Well, some weapons have been provided, on the other hand, it helps us save lives and we appreciate that. Of course, dragging your feet will lead to more lives lost.
Despite the considerable progress and heavy casualties, Ukrainian military leaders remain confident that the operation, seen as key to securing a satisfactory peace, is proceeding as planned, Zelenskyy said.
The United States has been a key ally as Ukraine prepared to push back into occupied territory. Last week, US General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, warned that the new offensive “is going to be very difficult, very long and very, very bloody”.
Zelenskyy told Raddatz in Kyiv it was “too early” to report major battlefield successes.
Analysts suggest Ukraine is keeping much of its mustered forces in reserve – hoping to launch a major attack once a weak point has been identified along the front lines, which stretch for miles. thousands of kilometers across eastern Ukraine.
General Oleksandr Syrskyi, commander of Ukraine’s ground forces, expressed confidence when Raddatz asked him earlier this week if he was confident of retaking the key town of Bakhmut. “Yes, of course,” he said. “I am on.”