Zelenskyy pushes for more support for Ukraine at Munich Security Conference

17 February, 06:07 PM
Zelensky spoke at the Munich Security Conference (Photo:Office of the President of Ukraine)

Zelensky spoke at the Munich Security Conference (Photo:Office of the President of Ukraine)

Any delay in supporting Ukraine is a mistake that aggressor state Russia can take advantage of, President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy said during his speech at the Munich Security Conference on Feb. 17.

“Russia is trying to win additional free time by bargaining with the world,” Zelenskyy said.

“Unfortunately, this will destroy many lives. This is why we need to hurry up. We need to speed up our agreements, speed up supplies to strengthen our military, and speed up decisions to limit the Russian potential. Delaying always was, and still is, a mistake.”

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Zelensky added that “there is no alternative to speed, because it’s speed that life depends on.”

The Ukrainian president noted that last year at the conference in Munich, he sought the determination of Western allies, but said that he received it “only after Russian missiles started to hit Ukraine.”

“Last year at the conference in Munich, I was looking for that determination.,” Zelelsnkyy said.

“Ukraine frankly told the world: We will fight for us if Russia launches a full-scale invasion. I wanted to hear from the world ‘Ukraine, we will be with you.’ Unfortunately, I only heard this after Russian missiles started to hit our land and Russian tanks crossed our borders. After that, Putin destroyed all of the alternatives, raising the question – us or him?”

Zelenskyy added that while Ukraine and the civilized world are conducting negotiations on the provision of weapons, Russia is using the time for its own purposes.

“While we are negotiating how to strengthen our defense with modern tanks, the Kremlin is thinking how to strangle Moldova,” Zelelsnkyy said.

“As we keep trying to convince (the West) that Ukraine needs a modern combat aircraft, Russia has already convinced the Iranian regime, and the result is not only Iranian drones in the Ukrainian sky.”

Zelesnkyy suggested Russia may have passed on nuclear bomb-making materials or secrets to Iran in exchange for military aid: “Are you sure it’s just money (that Russia gave Iran)? Will the world face an ‘enriched’ Iranian regime?”  he asked his audience, obliquely referring to the enriched uranium needed to make a nuclear weapon.

Ukraine has been asking its allies for more military aid since the very first days and weeks of Russia’s full-scale invasion and war, but the West has only just agreed to provide much needed weapons, including main battle tanks and infantry fighting vehicles.

On Jan. 25, after long hesitation, Germany approved the transfer of 14 Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine and their re-export from partner countries. On the same day, the United States announced the delivery of 31 Abrams tanks to Ukraine. German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius said that the first tanks can be sent to Ukraine by the end of March.

Minister of Foreign Affairs Dmytro Kuleba stated that Ukraine will receive 120-140 modern Western tanks in the first wave.

President Zelenskyy stated that the defenders of Ukraine need 300-500 tanks for an offensive.

Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry says it is also working on obtaining the first squadron of foreign combat aircraft. Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said on Feb. 17 said that some of Ukraine’s European partners have already “taken up” the issue of fighter jets.

U.S. President Joe Biden and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz previously stated that they would not hand over aircraft to Ukraine.

Meanwhile, Poland has expressed readiness to act only with the broad support of the West.

After speaking before the European Parliament and at the EU summit, Zelenskyy said that there are “certain positive decisions that have remained behind the scenes” regarding the fighter jets.

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