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29 Mar, 2024 22:57

US warned Kiev to stop attacking Russian refineries – Zelensky

The Ukrainian leader has renewed his demands for American money and weapons
US warned Kiev to stop attacking Russian refineries – Zelensky

Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky has confirmed media reports that the White House urged him to stop attacks on Russian infrastructure, but said the strikes will continue unless the US supplies him with more and better weapons.

Zelensky gave an interview to Washington Post columnist David Ignatius, which was published on Friday as an opinion piece urging the US Congress to approve a $61 billion aid package for Ukraine. He confirmed media reports that Washington had asked him to stop his forces from targeting Russian oil refineries with drones.

“The reaction of the US was not positive on this,” Zelensky told Ignatius, adding, however, that Washington is powerless to stop it. 

“We used our drones. Nobody can say to us you can’t,” he said. The US has long claimed that it has a veto over how the weapons it supplies to Kiev are used but that veto does not stretch to Kiev's drones.

Ukraine launched drone strikes against several Russian oil facilities earlier this month, claiming they “deliver a symbolic blow by bringing the war closer to Moscow” and disrupt the flow of fuel to the military on the front lines.

After Russia responded by targeting power plants across Ukraine, Zelensky changed his tune, however. He told Ignatius the attacks inside Russia are a form of deterrence, because Kiev is running out of missiles for its Western-provided air defenses.

“If there is no air defense to protect our energy system, and Russians attack it, my question is: Why can’t we answer them? Their society has to learn to live without petrol, without diesel, without electricity… It’s fair,” the Ukrainian leader said.

According to Ignatius, Zelensky “feels he has no choice but to punch back across the border.” Yet in the same interview, the Ukrainian leader repeated his demand for the US to send long-range ATACMS missiles, so he could reach even deeper into Russian territory.

“ATACM-300s, that is the answer,” Zelensky said.

Repeatedly asking for Congress to approve more funding, the Ukrainian leader argued that his troops will have to retreat and forget about mounting another offensive.

“It means we will go back, retreat, step by step, in small steps,” he added. “We are trying to find some way not to retreat.”

Ukraine has become entirely dependent on weapons, ammunition, and equipment deliveries from the US and its allies, who insist that supplying Kiev does not make them parties to the conflict.