Ukraine ready to buy anti-aircraft systems on credit, Zelensky says
Ukraine desperately needs anti-aircraft weaponry amid the ongoing Russian offensive, President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Saturday during a press conference with foreign media. Kiev has extensively researched and pinpointed the armaments’ location in countries from which such systems could be bought, Zelensky said.
“There is anti-missile defense that can be installed in the country. Ukraine has discovered where it is located around the world. In detail, down to the warehouses,” he said, adding that Kiev was ready to purchase such systems from anyone ready to supply them, regardless of the costs.
We are ready to buy [these systems], we are ready to take loans, we are ready to pull the last money from our budget and give it right away.
The president also took new jabs at the West and its reluctance to establish a no-fly zone above Ukraine to counter Russia’s ongoing military offensive. Some politicians in the West would reject the idea until a bomb hits the café they are sitting in, Zelensky said.
While Kiev has repeatedly urged the US-led NATO alliance to impose a no-fly zone, the bloc has ruled it out, cautioning that any attempt to implement it could lead it into direct conflict with Russia.
At the same time, the West has ramped up weapons deliveries to Ukraine. These include light anti-aircraft systems, namely US-made Stinger MANPADs, as well as Soviet-designed Strela missiles, still stockpiled by certain European countries.
Russia launched a large-scale offensive against its neighbor in late February, following a seven-year standoff over Ukraine’s failure to implement the terms of the 2014-15 Minsk agreements, and Russia’s eventual recognition of the Donbass republics in Donetsk and Lugansk. The German- and French-brokered protocols had been designed to regularize the status of those regions within the Ukrainian state and to end years-long conflict in the country’s east.
Moscow has since demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country and vow not to join the US-led NATO military bloc. Kiev insists the Russian offensive was unprovoked and has denied claims it was planning to retake the two republics by force.