Zelensky renews his order for US-made long-range missiles amid pressure from senators for Biden to provide more as he acknowledges “minor disagreements” over cluster munitions.
- Zelensky issued the appeal during a press event in Vilnius.
- France provides its own long-range weaponry
- Washington has held back for fear it could lead to an escalation
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Wednesday that he will press President Biden to provide longer-range missiles as he seeks to fend off relentless Russian missile attacks.
Zelensky made the plea during a press event in Vilnius when he spoke about trying to bring his country into the NATO alliance, after yesterday downloading a joint statement that does not provide a timetable for when he will be invited to join.
We need long-range weapons. This deficit remains and I am going to raise this issue,’ he said, raising another flashpoint at the NATO summit here. He spoke a day after French President Emmanuel Macron said his country would start providing crucial long-range missiles.
Ukraine is waging a counteroffensive, but has been retaking territory more slowly than some Western advisers expected in the face of entrenched Russian positions.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said he plans to push for more long-range missiles that allow him to target
French President Emmanuel Macron said Paris would provide the SCALP surface-to-air missile system to strike targets deeper into Russian-occupied territory.
“We have decided to deliver new missiles that will allow deep strikes into Ukraine,” he said, without saying how many would be sent from his arsenal of just under 400.
That only adds to the pressure on Washington to consider escalating from Paris, even though the administration has been cautious about supplying weapons that could allow Ukraine to strike deep into Russian territory.
Washington has been slow to approve the missiles with a range of up to 190 miles, amid concerns it could allow Ukraine to attack inside Russia and spark an escalation.
A group of senators from key defense committees who traveled to the summit told DailyMail.com they could back the administration by providing longer-range ATACM missiles.
“Well, I haven’t seen what President Macron has proposed, but I think any additional weapons provided to Ukraine so that it can win this war is a good thing,” Pete Ricketts (R-Neb.) said. ‘[I] I would certainly appreciate the willingness of the French president to hand over more weapons and better weapons.
Some senators who traveled to Vilnius told DailyMail.com that they want to provide Ukraine with long-range missiles.
Zelensky also said that Ukraine would use cluster munitions against Russian forces in the territory they had occupied inside Ukraine.
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said that “Russia has cluster bombs for all occasions” although it has already used them in its attack on Ukraine.
When asked about the risks that come with it, he said: ‘I don’t think we’re going to root for Putin any more than we already have, right? I mean, he’s already launched a war that’s the biggest we’ve had in Europe since World War II. We need to give Ukraine the weapons to win.’
“That’s good news for Ukraine,” Senator Jeanne Shaheen (DN.H.), a senior member of the Armed Services Committee, said when asked about the French move.
I think it’s useful. I think the more we work together, and that is the goal of this NATO summit, and our alliance is working together to cooperate in our shared security interests.”
But Sen. Angus King (I-Vt.) spoke of the trade-offs inherent in any decision.
“Clearly, what the president is balancing is full support for Ukraine against not escalating the conflict. That is a decision that must be made on a case-by-case, weapon-by-weapon basis.
He said it could be more provocative and could feed the ‘paranoia’ of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Zelensky also acknowledged “minor disagreements” over cluster munitions that Biden agreed to provide after internal debate.
He vowed to limit its use, as he has done before.
We are fighting only on our land. They are killing our people. He said his forces would use the munitions “only against military targets, only against the occupied territory of Ukraine.” This is something that is under control. It will not be used anywhere else.
Russia was accused early in the invasion of dropping masses of cluster bombs, and Ukraine collected mountains of exploded shells.
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said in response to the Biden administration’s move that “Russia has cluster bombs for all occasions,” threatening to use them despite Russia already having them.