Ukraine has shown the world that the Russian military can be stopped, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Wednesday as he began a visit to the Baltics seeking more help for his country against Kremlin forces , more numerous and better supplied. in the 22-month-old invasion.
Speaking in the Lithuanian capital Vilnius, Zelensky said Ukraine needed to further strengthen its air defenses against Russia’s intensifying missile and drone attacks and replenish its ammunition reserves as long-range strikes become the main characteristic of this winter’s fighting.
“We have proven that Russia can be stopped, that deterrence is possible,” he said after a meeting with Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda during his first foreign trip of the year.
The massive Russian barrages – more than 500 drones and missiles were fired between December 29 and January 2, according to Kiev officials – are however depleting Ukrainian weapons stocks. The escalation strains Ukraine’s air defense assets and leaves the country vulnerable unless it manages to do so. secure other arms supplies.
“We are sorely lacking in modern air defense systems,” Zelenskyy said, emphasizing that they are “what we need most.”
However, he recognized that stocks are low in countries likely to supply this type of material. “The warehouses are empty. And global defense faces many challenges,” he said.
Ukraine hopes to accelerate the development of its national defense industry and establish joint projects with foreign governments to accelerate the production of ammunition and weapons.
Ukrainian officials traveling with Zelensky signed several documents on cooperation on joint weapons production. Similar agreements are expected in the other Baltic countries that Zelensky is expected to visit this week.
Nauseda said Lithuania would send ammunition, generators and detonation systems to Ukraine this month and in February it would supply armored personnel carriers. He approved 200 million euros ($219 million) in support for kyiv, he said.
Zelenskyy said on his official Telegram channel that his two-day trip to Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia will focus on security issues, Ukraine’s hopes to join the European Union and NATO, as well as establishing partnerships in drone production and electronic warfare capabilities.
Zelensky thanked Lithuania for its military assistance and goodwill.
He then traveled to Tallinn, the Estonian capital, where he is due to meet the prime minister, president and address parliament, then travel to neighboring Latvia.
“We know how tiring this long war is and we wish Ukraine a complete victory as quickly as possible,” Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda told reporters.
Smaller Eastern European countries are among Ukraine’s strongest political, financial and military supporters, and some Baltic countries fear they could be Moscow’s next target.
The three countries were seized and annexed by Joseph Stalin during World War II before regaining their independence with the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991. They joined NATO in 2004, placing themselves under the military protection of the States. -United States and their Western allies.
“Democratic countries have done a lot to help Ukraine, but we must do more together so that Ukraine wins and the aggressor loses,” Estonian President Alar Karis said in a statement.
“Then there is the hope that this will remain the last military aggression in Europe, where someone wants to dictate to their neighbor, with missiles, drones and cannons, what political choices can be made,” he said. -he adds.
In his Telegram message, Zelensky expressed gratitude to the Baltics for their “uncompromising” support for Ukraine over the past ten years, referring to 2014, when Russian aggression began with the illegal annexation of the peninsula Ukrainian from Crimea.
Russia’s recent escalation of missile and drone attacks is straining Ukraine’s air defense resources, a Ukrainian air force official said Tuesday, leaving the country vulnerable unless he doesn’t succeed. secure other arms supplies.
Zelensky’s energetic international diplomacy During the war, it was essential to maintain pressure on friendly countries to continue supplying Kiev with billions of dollars of weapons, including German Leopard tanks, American missile systems Patriot and British Storm Shadow cruise missiles.
However, this support has recently declined. The administration of US President Joe Biden is considering sending billions of dollars in additional aid to kyiv. stuck in Congress, and Europe’s March pledge to deliver 1 million artillery shells within 12 months has failed, with only about 300,000 delivered so far.
Meanwhile, long-range strikes by Kremlin forces continued.
Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, was attacked Tuesday evening by Russian S-300 missiles, Mayor Ihor Terekhov said.
The Russians attacked an unoccupied summer camp on the northeastern outskirts of the city, he said on Telegram. Several buildings were damaged but no casualties were reported.
Ukraine also continued its attempts to hit targets in Russia.
The Russian Defense Ministry said its air defenses shot down a Ukrainian drone over the Saratov region in southwest Russia on the Volga River on Wednesday morning.
Saratov Governor Roman Busargin said the drone was shot down over the Engels district, home to the main base for Russian strategic bombers that have launched cruise missiles at Ukraine. He said there were no casualties or damage.
This article is originally published on nouvelles-dujour.com