Kyiv had been asking Western countries to provide it with weapons several months before the Russian army launched its full-scale invasion of the country, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba has said in an interview with news and analysis website Politico.
If Ukraine had been more trusted by the West, thousands of lives of Ukrainians could have been saved, Kuleba told Politico.
“Our partners were reluctant to help,” Kuleba said.
He mentioned a conversation that he had with Anthony Blinken, U.S. Secretary of State, on one of the first days after Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine.
“I asked him if that would be possible … to supply Patriot missile systems, as we had been discussing it for months,” Kuleba said.
“And he (Blinken) said: Dmytro, this could happen eventually. But you need to understand that you need at least two or three months to teach people how to use them.”
Over two months later, on May 9, Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby said during a news conference that the U.S. Department of Defense is prioritizing the supply to Ukraine of weapons that the local army is able to operate and maintain.
Besides that, Kirby said that Pentagon is paying the close attention to the needs of Ukrainian army, which is performing a defensive operation in the Donbas area.
Kuleba said the time lost in negotiating the supply of heavy weapons had cost Ukraine the territorial gains Putin made in the south and east of Ukraine.
“If they had listened to us on the issue of weapons supplies from the beginning, … then we wouldn’t have had to spend hours and days on explaining to our partners in Europe and the U.S. why we needed some particular weapons and not others,” Kuleba said.
“We would already have had those weapons. We would teach all the people (to operate them), so the situation in various regions would have been different by now – much better. That’s where we lost lots of time and allowed Vladimir Putin to get those gains that he shouldn’t have had.”
Early in the full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky made a call to the nation’s international partners to provide Ukraine with heavy artillery, heavy armored vehicles, anti-aircraft systems and warfare planes, so Ukraine could continue its defensive operation against Russian aggression.
Later he said that despite getting military support from its Western partners, the Ukrainian army still lacks the heavy weapons needed to defeat the Russian army.