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EXCLUSIVE: Ukrainian presidential aide urges more help for Kyiv

22.02.2024 12:00
Ukrainian presidential aide Mykhailo Podolyak has restated the urgent need for increased Western military assistance to his country as it fights to repel Russia’s invasion.
Mykhailo Podolyak
Mykhailo PodolyakPAP/Newscom

In an exclusive interview with public broadcaster Polish Radio, Podolyak said his country needs access to modern technology to counterbalance Russia's superiority in terms of men and weaponry.

His statement comes as the two-year anniversary of Russia's full-scale invasion of its neighbor approaches on February 24.

'Terrorist alliance'

Speaking to Polish Radio's Maciej Jastrzębski, Podolyak highlighted Russia's economic shift to a wartime economy, and the creation of a “terrorist alliance”—military cooperation with North Korea and Iran who he said are supplying Russia with weapons in significant quantities.

North Korea is selling missiles to Russia and Iran is providing drones and technology, while Russia has adapted to the sanctions on its exports by using a "shadow fleet" to sell its sanctioned commodities on the global market, according to Podolyak.

He stressed that Ukraine could offset Russia's numerical advantage but needs more weapons and modern technology.

"Russia uses guided aerial bombs, so we urgently need as many F-16 aircraft as possible,” he said. “The same goes for anti-missile systems; we need significantly more.”

‘The key to everything’

He added that “jointly produced drones and long-range missiles are the key to everything."

In the interview, Podolyak argued for Russia's complete isolation, including diplomatically, to prevent figures such as Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov from promoting war, including at the United Nations.

Podolyak pointed to Russia's effective circumvention of sanctions, which he said has allowed it to finance the war.

He questioned why Russia should still be able to produce missiles, such as Kalibr and Iskander cruise missiles, with parts from European and North American suppliers and why European companies operating in the Russian market were effectively contributing to Russia's military budget.

‘Permanent state of war’

Europe, according to Podolyak, must decide whether it is ready to collectively oppose Russia and prepare for a permanent state of war.

He said: "Why do I talk about a permanent war? Because Russia has dropped its camouflage. Putin's Russia can only exist in a state of war against someone, whether it's a cyber war or an information war.”

‘I need ammunition, not a ride’: Zelensky

Recalling the onset of Russia’s full-scale invasion of his country on February 24, 2022, Podolyak described the overwhelming force of the Russian military, which he said attacked from 16 directions with up to 247,000 troops.

Ukrainian units, supported by civil society and political leaders who chose to stay, countered the invasion, he told Polish Radio.

He recalled Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky's famed "I need ammunition, not a ride,” offered as a response to an offer of evacuation.

‘Plans for ethnic cleansing’

This resilience surprised Russia, which expected a quick victory and had “plans for ethnic cleansing” and repression of the entire Ukrainian population, Podolyak said.

Podolyak criticized what he said was slow military support from allies in 2023, as Russia strengthened its positions while the West hoped for negotiations with the aggressor, underestimating its intentions for ethnic cleansing, territorial conquest and annihilation of Ukrainian culture.

Despite ongoing challenges, the Ukrainian military has demonstrated a high level of determination and professionalism, inflicting significant losses on the Russian army, navy and air force, according to Podolyak.

He noted the adaptation of Ukrainian civilians to wartime conditions, with daily life persisting against a background of continuous attacks and constant shelling of civilian infrastructure and residential areas.

Children attend schools, often in shelters, and the economy has not collapsed, he said.

‘Ukraine must endure’

"We have no choice but to work and live a normal life because the war will continue for some time, and Ukraine must endure," he concluded, underscoring the resilience and determination of the Ukrainian people in the face of ongoing aggression.

Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, 2022, starting the largest armed conflict in Europe since World War II.

Thursday is day 729 of Russia’s war on Ukraine.


Source: IAR, polskieradio24.pl