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1 Jul 2023
Kurt Zindulka

NextImg:Top Ukraine General Blames Struggles on Lack of Western Fighter Jets

Ukraine’s top general has blamed the slow progress of the country’s counteroffensive against Russia on a supposed lack of Western-supplied weaponry and fighter jets.

Valery Zaluzhny, Ukraine’s military commander-in-chief, aired his frustrations with the growing concern in Western capitals and media that his forces are not making the expected gains against the heavily entrenched Russian forces.

It “pisses me off”, the top general told the Washington Post. “It’s not a show the whole world is watching and betting on or anything. Every day, every meter is given by blood.”

Zaluzhny laid the blame for the apparent lack of success on the frontlines on a lack of military aid from the West, claiming that his forces are being outgunned and outmatched by the Russians, specifically in terms of artillery. The general told the Jeff Bezos-owned paper that Russians are firing ten times as many artillery shells as his forces, which he said resulted from a lack of supplies from Western countries.

The Ukrainian commander-in-chief went on to malign the slow delivery of American-made F-16 fighter jets, which President Joe Biden approved NATO allies to supply the country with prior to the G7 meeting in Japan in May. Deliveries of the advanced warplanes are not expected to be sent to Kyiv until September at the earliest and it is still unclear as to which country will be supplying the U.S.-made jets.

“I do not need 120 planes. I’m not going to threaten the whole world. A very limited number would be enough,” he told the newspaper, adding: “But they are needed. Because there is no other way. Because the enemy is using a different generation of aviation.”

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Zaluzhny said that he is in frequent contact with Western military figures, including Pentagon Joint Chiefs Chairman General Mark Milley, to express the need for swift deliveries of F-16 jets.

“It’s just that while that decision is being made, in the obvious situation, a lot of people die every day — a lot. Just because no decision has been made yet,” he said.

For his part, speaking on Friday, General Milley said per the AFP: “We are giving them as much help as humanly possible.”

Milley went on to try to downplay the lack of progress of the counteroffensive, saying that it “is advancing steadily, deliberately working its way through very difficult minefields.

“Sure, it goes a little slow but that is part of the nature of war,” he said. “War on paper and real war are different.”

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky also admitted last month that the much-anticipated counteroffensive against the Russians was going “slower than desired“.

While the country was quick to celebrate the apparent damage caused by the rebellion of the Wagner mercenary group against the Kremlin, the relocation of Wagner forces to neighbouring Belarus — the border of which is located just 100 miles from Kyiv — has reportedly forced Ukraine to move some of its troops north to ward off any potential strike at the capital from the battle-herded Wagner forces, further complicating matters for the counteroffensive in the south.

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Since January 2021, the United States, alone, has sent some $41.2 billion in military aid to Ukraine, which the State Department says is meant to demonstrate America’s “enduring and steadfast commitment to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

Despite growing opposition to continued funding of the proxy war against Russia, including from the Republican-controlled House of Representatives, more taxpayer money is likely to be sent East, with the Pentagon claiming a $6.2 billion “accounting error” in its support tabulations, which effectively freed up the funds for the Biden administration to send more weapons and military hardware to Ukraine.

The announcement, which was met with widespread derision, has prompted bi-partisan calls for an audit of the Pentagon, with Senators Rand Paul (R-KY), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), and Chuck Grassley (R-IA) backing legislation that would require the Department of Defense (DOD) to give a full accounting of its books to an independent auditor by next year or face budget cuts.

Questions surrounding money sent to Ukraine — one of the most corrupt countries in the world — have not been contained to Washington, with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán demanding this week that Brussels account for how the 70 billion euros it has provided to Kyiv has been spent before sending the additional 50 billion euros announced last month.

“The European Commission must answer the question of where the money has gone and who is responsible for bringing the European Union to the brink of financial bankruptcy in two and a half to three years,” Orbán said.

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