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14 Jul, 2023 20:48

Ukraine’s top general bristles under US restrictions

General Valery Zaluzhny is unhappy those who pay his army’s bills get to set the rules of engagement
Ukraine’s top general bristles under US restrictions

Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine General Valery Zaluzhny told the Washington Post in an interview published on Friday that US has restricted his country's use of long-range missiles and forced his army to improvise in order to attack Russia.

“To save my people, why do I have to ask someone for permission what to do on enemy territory?” Zaluzhny is quoted as telling the Post, in what was described as a rare interview, complaining about what the outlet called “figurative Western handcuffs on his military operations.”

“For some reason, I have to think that I’m not allowed to do anything there. Why? Because [Russian President Vladimir] Putin will… use nuclear weapons? The kids who are dying don’t care,” the general is quoted as saying.

Zaluzhny argued that it was up to Ukrainians to decide “how to kill this enemy. It is possible and necessary to kill on his territory in a war. If our partners are afraid to use their weapons, we will kill with our own,” he told the US outlet.

According to Zaluzhny, he gets around the Western restrictions by using weapons made in Ukraine for strikes across the border, while official Kiev pretends they did not happen. The Ukrainian Defense Ministry only recently admitted to last October’s truck bombing of the Crimean Bridge, for example.

The Post described Zaluzhny as “the man Ukrainians trust to keep them safe and Western partners trust with billions in security assistance.” However, the general has complained that the West hasn’t given him enough to fight with. He wants air superiority, long-range cruise missiles, and the ability to have as many artillery shells as Russia can fire, he reportedly told the outlet. 

He also wants to “retake” Crimea, the peninsula that voted overwhelmingly to rejoin Russia after the US-backed coup in Kiev in 2014.

“As soon as I have the means, I’ll do something. I don’t give a damn – nobody will stop me,” Zaluzhny told the Post.

Ukraine is almost entirely dependent on the US and its allies for weapons, equipment and ammunition at this point. The collective West had supplied $100 billion worth of material aid to Kiev in 2022 alone, according to Russian Defense Ministry estimates.

US and UK officials have publicly reminded Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky at the NATO summit in Vilnius this week that he could show more gratitude for all the military aid his government has received.