Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy had told European leaders to rapidly increase the supply of modern weapons to his forces, particularly jet fighters and long-range missile systems, otherwise, they should prepare for the war dragging on for years.
Speaking on a train to Kyiv after his third visit in two days to war-ravaged areas near the front lines in the south and east of Ukraine, Zelenskyy gave an emotional account of what he had seen as he addressed a summit of European Union leaders gathered in Brussels via video link, an EU official said.
In a long and sharply worded address at times, Zelenskyy on Thursday said it was up to the EU as a bloc to take action to contain Russia as its invasion of Ukraine enters the second year.
While he welcomed a recent EU plan to send Kyiv 1 million artillery shells, he kept up his demands for warplanes and missiles that he believes will be more effective at pushing back Russian forces.
Zelenskyy’s comments represented an unusually open display of frustration with European nations who have donated to Ukraine’s war effort. He also complained that the EU appeared to be in no hurry to impose more sanctions against Moscow.
“If Europe waits, the evil may have time to regroup and prepare for years of war. It is in your power to prevent this,” he told EU leaders.
It was the EU, the Ukrainian leader said, that had delayed decisions on providing long-range weapons and modern fighter aircraft as well as in moving forward with talks on granting his country EU membership.
“Dear colleagues, do you not feel that we have had fewer successes than delays in our joint actions? Unfortunately, that is the case. And the Kremlin sees that,” he said.
“We cannot keep delaying the transfer of weapons to our soldiers … we need modern aircraft. We talked about this. Is there truly any rational motivation in delays concerning modern aircraft?”
“God forbid anyone in the world should see their cities empty because of the threat of terrorist attacks, such as Kramatorsk or dozens of other cities of Donbas,” Zelenskyy said, reflecting on his visit to the front lines.
“God forbid anyone should see it happen in his or her own country.”