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Ukraine's most urgent needs. Highlights from Zelenskyy's interview

Ukraine's most urgent needs. Highlights from Zelenskyy's interview President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy (photo:а)

The President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy gave a new big interview. In it, he spoke about mobilization, the frontline, and what our country needs to deter Russian aggression. RBC-Ukraine cites the highlights.

About the defense lines

According to him, three defense lines are being built in all directions. Even where there are no hostilities.

"The approach is the same regardless of the direction. As for the deadlines. The deadlines are approximately the same, but the closer to the hot areas, the faster everything is being built. This is the requirement, but everything will be commissioned within the same period," he said.

It should be noted that the interview was recorded in Chernihiv region. Zelenskyy said that this is a strategic direction.

"We are 30-35 kilometers from Russia and Belarus, this is a crossroads. We understand why such points were chosen, we understand how the Russians entered, what roads and directions were used. That is, everything has been prepared for a reason, it has been carefully calculated. Everything will be handed over in a couple of months. At least these are the commitments for all three lines. But in some hot areas, 92-98% of the work has already been completed," he added.

About Russia, the situation at the front and reserves

The President expressed hope that the Verkhovna Rada would soon vote on amendments to the legislation on mobilization. He also spoke about Russia's plans and the situation at the front.

"As for the Russians, 300 thousand is not the final number of troops they will mobilize. According to our information, they should be ready to mobilize 300 thousand by June 1. And then the training in Russia is very short... I think they will need about a month to have that many people. Since their discipline is not very good, they may not have time to mobilize 300,000 by June 1," Zelenskyy said.

He also emphasized that Ukrainian society has experienced the Russian offensive that began in October 2023 unequally. Ukraine has suffered losses, there are destroyed villages, and Avdiivka has been captured, but the Russians have been stopped.

"The situation is difficult, but nevertheless stabilized. The enemy is not advancing where it is taking steps forward. We repel them, put pressure and they retreat. And vice versa, our guys are making some steps forward," the President noted.

In addition, he drew attention to the fact that in order to disrupt the enemy's offensive, Ukraine must train personnel and equip brigades.

"A large volume of reserves must be prepared. Not just, with all due respect, young men and boys, but people with experience, who have been through combat training, who have frontline experience, etc. All the data with a specific number of brigades, people, personnel, appropriate equipment for different areas - all this has been transferred to our partners," Zelenskyy said.

About whether there is a threat of an attack on Kharkiv

"Kharkiv is currently protected, not from the point of view of the sky... As far as the defensive borders are concerned, as far as our army is concerned, Kharkiv is not in danger. The fact that it is a desired target, well, the Russians do not hide it - the whole east, and not only the east, and the south of our country, and cities like Kharkiv, Kramatorsk. This is their desired target. But today we are absolutely confident in defending Kharkiv region," he said.

The President commented on the Russian fake news about the attack on Kharkiv. According to him, they have a very professional disinformation policy. They spread fakes through Western and Ukrainian media, so everything must be carefully checked.

"No one is reassuring. We are at war, but we should not exaggerate," Zelenskyy added.

About the threat of an offensive from Belarus

It is no secret that Ukraine is building defense lines. The Russians and Belarusians should know that there are borders and troops, "dragon's teeth" and anti-tank ditches.

"There is no need to hide it, because they should know that there will be resistance. And our society, for example, Chernihiv region, should know that we have a strong defense here. As for the strategy, we do not see any plans, threats or capacities from Belarus today," the President said.

About the Peace Summit

There is no specific list of participating countries.

"In the coming days, we will agree on a specific date for the first inaugural summit in Switzerland. After that, we will send out invitations in various formats to the leaders of the world... We expect to have 80-100 countries," he said.

This should be a powerful Peace Summit, which will begin to build a map of further steps to end the war.

About the law on mobilization

Russian propaganda worked, it realized the sensitivity of the issue and raised it in Ukrainian society and in the West. It began to divide society into those who are for and those who are against, into military and civilians.

"This is a big mistake. MPs should calm down and not expect applause for their populism. Therefore, the law should not be cleaned up, it should be looked at realistically. There must be a working law that will be effective. Otherwise, the parliament will be responsible for the reserves, not the military command. And this, I believe, is unacceptable," the President said.

In his opinion, 4 months was enough time to discuss all the controversial issues.

"That's why we are talking to the parliament to vote for the relevant law in the coming days. This is very important. This is not responsible at all, what they are doing," the President emphasized.

According to him, the big problem is that the Russians managed to make it look like people are not ready to defend Ukraine. And today, the West is already asking if Ukraine does not want to mobilize, why should it help us.

About the military offices

Zelenskyy noted that the reset of the military offices began last year.

"I really asked for people with combat experience. There are a lot of guys who have been to the front today. It is very important to treat such people with respect. And I think this process is underway," he said.

According to him, the Armed Forces should always be treated with respect.

"Yesterday, when everyone was under full occupation, when the country might not have existed, everyone treated them with respect. And today, everyone is talking about the mobilization, dividing themselves into people and mobilizationists. I think this is no way to treat our soldiers. Of course, there are different cases... but people need to change their attitudes," he added.

About the problems with rotation

There is rotation in different areas. But there is a difference between combat brigades.

"Our army has a powerful fist, let's be honest. There are strong and professional brigades with combat experience. They need to be given more time to rest... And there are others, but everyone gets tired. And when you have a strategic direction and really need to let guys rest, let's be honest: we need the same number of guys with the same experience to replace them. If your reserves are not as strong, you will not be able to let guys rest. Otherwise, you won't be around tomorrow. That's how it works. Tomorrow and the day after tomorrow, you might lose a city," the president emphasized.

About the shells

Ukraine does not have any shells for offensive operations. As for defense, there are several initiatives that have started to work. Today, brigades in the most tense areas are receiving everything fairly. In some cases, FPV drones have become an alternative, and their production has increased tenfold.

"As for disrupting the Russian counteroffensive, there is a lack of appropriate weapons. As for disrupting their actions in one direction or another, to work on their military airfields, on the planes that hit us with missiles, on helicopters, on warehouses and bases - there is a suitable long-range projectile or weapon for this. But this is what we lack," he said.

About Patriot

"I will not say how many Patriot systems we have. I can say that to completely cover Ukraine for the future, it is desirable to have 25 Patriot systems with 6-8 batteries each. I've never said this, but I don't see any secrets here, because all our partners are well aware of this. They even know the points where the systems should be placed and operate. Patriot or analogs, there are several analogs in the world, they also work very well," Zelenskyy said.

About energy and stockpiles of missiles for air defense

"They will finish off our power system, that's their desire. I believe that we will be able to go this way. We have managed to protect many power facilities with air defense and other 1-2-3 level protection. Unfortunately, there are missiles against which these defense systems do not work. And only Patriot or an analog can work here," the president emphasized.

He added that the Russians are attacking the energy sector very intensively, and we need to think about what will happen tomorrow.

"If the intensity continues tomorrow, we will not have enough (missiles for air defense - ed.). If they continue to hit us every day as they have been doing for the last month, we may not have enough missiles, and our partners know this as well," he said, adding that some shells and missiles are already being delivered to the air defense system under bilateral contracts.

About Russian guided aerial bombs and whether F-16s will help

There should be a combined defense against Russian attacks. There is only one format to counter guided bombs and that is air defense systems. And it has worked well several dozen times when Ukraine has shot down carriers. Now the Russians are making these bombs to work over a longer distance. That's why Ukraine needs to get more long-range air defense systems.

"Another weapon against the GABs is being developed. It is domestic. I won't say what it is yet," Zelenskyy intrigued.

As for the F-16s, the amount that Ukraine will receive with the existing aircraft will still be insufficient.

"It will be 10% of the amount we need. What is 10%? If you fight in the sky, you have to fight and win, not just say we have F-16s," he added.

About US assistance

"As for the US assistance, it is critical in any case. I still believe that we will be able to get a positive vote from the US Congress. Unfortunately, we are a little bit hostage to this situation, the issue of Russia's war against Ukraine has become a domestic political issue in the United States, although it is the security of the whole world. Unfortunately, we are hostage to the fact that this is an election process in the United States. However, I believe that reason will prevail and we will get help," he said.

He also added that many options are being considered, including a loan.

"We will agree to any option. I will say more, if Ukraine was offered to give the package on credit today or free of charge in a year, we would say: only today. There is no choice here, the sooner the better," Zelenskyy emphasized.

About foreign troops in Ukraine

So far, only the initiative to have foreign instructors train Ukrainian soldiers right in Ukraine has been supported.

"It is faster than sending our guys. It's a fact that we can speed up training. The second thing is to build hubs to repair Western equipment in Ukraine," he said.

He is also not against a border mission.

"He (French President Emmanuel Macron - ed.) said that we can stand on the border. How can we refuse? If they offer this and will come, we will support it," the president said.

Regarding the deployment of troops in the full sense, Zelenskyy does not know the details of Macron's conversations with his partners. But Zelenskyy cannot initiate invitations to foreigners, because Russia will do everything to stop its partners from helping Ukraine.

"But if there are initiatives from other countries, let's be honest. We even have some volunteer formations where people with other citizenships fight for Ukraine. Ukraine will never mind if someone wants to help Ukraine," he added.

On Turkey as a mediator

Zelenskyy noted Turkey's mediation role in the grain corridor and prisoner exchanges.

"I am grateful to him (President Recep Tayyip Erdogan - ed.), but he should know that Turkey alone is not enough for us as a mediator, the Peace Summit format is better for us. I do not believe that Turkey alone will be able to clamp down on Putin's policy. With all due respect to our Turkish partners, they have strong relations with Russia and their own economic interests," the president said.

In his opinion, only as many as 80-100 countries attending the Peace Summit will be able to force Russia to peace.