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Zelensky: Russia preparing offensive for early summer

by The Kyiv Independent news desk February 25, 2024 8:58 PM 2 min read
President Volodymyr Zelensky attends a press conference during the "Ukraine Year 2024" forum in Kyiv on Feb. 25, 2024, marking the second anniversary of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. (Sergei Supinsky / AFP)
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Russia is preparing to launch an offensive in Ukraine in spring or the start of the summer, President Volodymyr Zelensky said at the "Ukraine. Year 2024" forum in Kyiv on Feb. 25.

"Russia will be preparing for counteroffensive actions at the beginning of the summer or at the end of May if they can," Zelensky said. "We will be preparing for the battle."

High-ranking Ukrainian officials met to discuss Ukraine’s future at the “Ukraine. Year 2024” forum on Feb. 25, one day after the second anniversary of Russia’s full-scale war.

The forum discussed achieving Ukraine’s goals in the war, developing its defense and security forces, implementing Ukraine’s peace formula, ensuring economic growth and integration into world markets, security guarantees, the status of its military-industrial complex, and protecting the lives of Ukrainians.

Zelensky added that March and April will be difficult months for Ukraine due to the "instability in the U.S. that may affect other countries," alluding to the European Union and its member states.

He did note, however, that the "EU has shown the ability to be leaders with corresponding support."

Delays in U.S. military aid to Ukraine have been felt on the front lines, where soldiers face an increasingly desperate ammunition shortage. A security assistance package worth $61 billion remains frozen as obstructionist Republican legislators refuse to approve the bill.

Zelensky also said that having 10 more American-made Patriot missile systems for "key industrial centers" and deploying them close to the front line would have "fundamentally changed the situation," forcing Russian forces to retreat.

"They wouldn't have approached us. They would have retreated. We would have broken their defensive lines and moved forward," Zelensky said.

"So why does Ukraine not have it? Well, it means that not everyone needs it, or that not everything is possible, or that everything is ahead of us," he said.

The Patriot system is recognized as one of the world's best air defense systems, enabling Ukraine to shoot down missiles and reduce the risk of infrastructure damage and civilian casualties during Russian attacks.

Ukraine received its first Patriot systems in April 2023 and soon after proved their effectiveness by downing at least 15 air-launched ballistic Kinzhal missiles, lauded by Moscow as "unstoppable hypersonic" weapons.

In early February, Spain started to provide technical maintenance training for the Patriot missile system to Ukrainian military personnel.

Zelensky: 31,000 Ukrainian soldiers killed in Russia’s war
Around 31,000 Ukrainian soldiers have been recorded as killed by Russia’s war, President Volodymyr Zelensky said at the “Ukraine. Year 2024” forum in Kyiv on Feb. 25.
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