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13 Oct, 2023 11:29

Top Zelensky aide blames West for Ukraine's frontline failures

Mikhail Podoliak said the operation had fallen behind schedule because Kiev’s backers were taking too long to provide weapons
Top Zelensky aide blames West for Ukraine's frontline failures

Ukraine’s Western backers are responsible for the slowdown in Kiev’s counteroffensive, a senior adviser to President Vladimir Zelensky, Mikhail Podoliak, has suggested, lamenting that weapons deliveries are taking too long. Earlier this week, Kirill Budanov, the head of Ukraine’s Main Intelligence Directorate, acknowledged that Kiev’s military had fallen behind schedule in its attempt to drive Russian forces away.

In an interview with Ukraine’s Channel 24 on Thursday, Podoliak was asked whether he concurred with Budunov’s assessment. The official replied that Kiev’s counteroffensive is “six to nine months behind schedule.” He explained that “intensive” negotiations on arms deliveries, which began last fall, proved to be a long-drawn-out process, “with the partners afraid to acknowledge then that everything Ukraine needs should be provided as soon as possible.

According to the Ukrainian presidential adviser, some in the West have adopted a wait-and-see approach, apparently not entirely sure whether Ukraine could withstand Russia’s push, adding that these supposed doubts are “holding back both the provision of aid and the quantity of aid.

He revealed that President Zelensky’s regular visits to Western capitals aim to keep the conflict on the agenda. His aide pointed out that the Ukrainian head of state is also proving “very effective” in demanding compliance with existing defense agreements.

In an interview with the Ukrainskaya Pravda newspaper published on Thursday, intelligence chief Budanov said that Ukrainian forces were not merely behind schedule but had completely “fallen out of it.” He cited several things that did not go as “smoothly” as Kiev had hoped.

The official also expressed concern that the recent military conflict between Israel and HAMAS could potentially hamper the continued supply of arms to Ukraine should the hostilities in the Middle East become protracted.

Earlier, President Zelensky admitted there were problems with Ukraine’s counteroffensive, launched in early June. Last month, he said that the operation had slowed down due to Russian air superiority and blamed Kiev’s Western backers for failing to supply Ukraine’s forces with the necessary weapons.

Western military officials have also stated that Russian defenses have proven more resilient than expected.

Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced last week that the Ukrainian military had lost as many as 90,000 troops, nearly 1,900 armored vehicles, and some 557 tanks since the start of its counteroffensive.