President Volodymyr Zelensky in a new address criticized foreign partners who have not yet supplied Ukraine with the tanks and aircraft needed to relieve the beleaguered city of Mariupol.
Zelensky said that "Ukraine cannot shoot down Russian missiles with shotguns and machine guns," which he said are too numerous in arms shipments from partners.
“It is impossible to unblock Mariupol without a sufficient number of tanks and other armored vehicles, and, of course, planes,” Zelensky said.
“All the defenders of Ukraine, the defenders of Mariupol, thousands of people, civilians dying there in the blockade, are aware of this. This is understood in the United States, all European politicians know this, and as many people on Earth as possible should learn this as soon as possible, so that everyone knows who shied away from preventing the tragedy and making a vital decision, and why.”
Zelensky added that Ukraine has already captured a certain number of Russian tanks, but “the peoples of the world will definitely not understand if the battlefield in Ukraine is a greater supplier of tanks to protect freedom than our partners.”
Earlier, during a speech at the NATO summit on March 24, President Zelensky called on the alliance to transfer 1% of its aircraft and tanks to Ukraine.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson later said that Zelensky's request was “logistically difficult” to fulfill.
The UK has 227 main battle tanks, so 1% of the UK’s stock would be two tanks.
Meanwhile, more than 2,300 civilians have died in Mariupol since the start of Russia's full-scale invasion, according to the City Council. It is impossible to establish the exact number of victims due to the constant shelling of Mariupol by invading Russian forces. A humanitarian catastrophe has paralyzed the city. As a result of Russian shelling, more than 80% of the city's infrastructure, including schools and hospitals, has been destroyed.