Zelensky Declares: Putin Won't Stop at Kharkiv

Written by Henrik Rothen

May.19 - 2024 10:00 AM CET

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Photo: President's Office
Photo: President's Office
Ukrainian President Zelensky warns that the Russian offensive on Kharkiv is just the beginning.

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The Russian advance on Kharkiv may be just the beginning of a more extensive operation.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky remains skeptical of Vladimir Putin's assurances that Russia only aims to create a buffer zone around the city, not to capture it.

Zelensky continues to emphasize the critical need for more weapons, which have yet to arrive from the U.S. and are essential for Ukraine to defend itself effectively.

No Truce, No Negotiations

"We have 25% of the air defenses needed to hold the front," Zelensky revealed ahead of another meeting in the Ramstein format, which coordinates Western military aid.

For Ukraine, this means no truce and no negotiations. The president remains adamant that Ukraine will not bow to Russian demands or stop fighting.

10,000 Evacuated from Kharkiv

The Russian push toward Kharkiv, just 10 kilometers beyond the border, has already led to the evacuation of 10,000 people.

This advance shattered any illusions of a stabilized or frozen conflict, sending shockwaves through Western capitals and sparking concerns of a sudden collapse of Ukrainian lines, a fear echoed by NATO's eastern flank for months.

Poland is taking proactive measures, with Prime Minister Donald Tusk announcing a 2.3 billion euro investment to fortify borders with Russia's Kaliningrad exclave and Belarus.

This "eastern shield" aims to prepare for potential escalations.

"If a sudden collapse happens, there’s no Plan B," an Eastern European diplomat warned, highlighting the gravity of the situation.

Zelensky Calls for More Patriot Missiles

"The Russian offensive might come in waves; we must be clear-eyed about who is advancing," Zelensky noted, emphasizing the need for two additional Patriot missile batteries in the region.

The proposal for an Olympic truce, discussed by French President Emmanuel Macron and Chinese President Xi Jinping with Putin, seems impractical under the current circumstances.

The situation is further complicated by the restrictions on using American weapons to strike Russian soil. Ukrainian troops face manpower shortages, and Western aid, while crucial, is not reaching critical mass. "We need 120-130 modern jets," Zelensky stated, expressing frustration with the West's hesitant stance.

Amidst this bleak scenario, there are emerging discussions about a "Plan B" – exerting coordinated pressure on Zelensky to adopt more conciliatory measures. Simultaneously, European capitals are debating whether to send military instructors, not combat troops, to Ukraine to speed up the training of recruits.

This proposal faces division among European nations, with Baltic states, Poland, and France pushing for a more aggressive stance, while the U.S., Germany, Italy, and even the UK lean towards caution.

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