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Ukraine can’t start the next counteroffensive due to a shortage of weapons, including heavy equipment and fighter jets, President Volodymyr Zelensky told the Japanese newspaper Yomiuri Shimbun.
“We cannot send them (our troops) under such conditions," he said.
In January, Kyrylo Budanov, head of Ukraine’s Main Intelligence Directorate, said that Ukraine was planning a major counteroffensive in spring, with the “hottest” fighting expected in March.
Zelensky acknowledged that the situation in the east of Ukraine was “not good” due to a “lack of ammunition,” as Russian forces fire three times more shells than the Ukrainian troops daily.
"We are waiting for ammunition from our partners," he said.
On March 16, U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said that "Ukraine doesn't have any time to waste” ahead of the country’s upcoming counteroffensive.
“We have to deliver swiftly and fully on our promised commitments,” Austin said, as quoted by Politico.
“That includes delivering our armored capabilities to the battlefield and ensuring that Ukrainian soldiers get the training, spare parts, and maintenance support they need to use these new systems as soon as possible.”
In its regular evening update on March 24, the General Staff of Ukraine's Armed Forces reported that Russian troops were concentrating their primary efforts in the eastern Donetsk Oblast, namely the cities of Bakhmut, Avdiivka, and Marinka.
The battle for Bakhmut has been raging for the past eight months, with heavy losses incurred by both sides. However, Ukraine continues to hold the city.
On March 23, Oleksandr Syrskyi, commander of the Ground Forces of Ukraine, wrote that Ukrainian forces in Bakhmut are preparing to "take advantage" of Russian forces' massive losses and fatigue.