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Ukraine Says Western Weapons are Helping

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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy speaking at a press conference. | Image by Efrem Lukatsky, AP Photo via NPR

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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy claimed that Western heavy weapons are beginning to have an impact on the battlefield but urged quicker supplies, especially of antiaircraft systems, as Russia continued to fire missiles into Ukrainian cities.

Russian forces left Snake Island last week after being subjected to long-range missile and artillery barrages made possible by Western military supplies. The island controls Black Sea shipping lanes that Ukraine wants to restore so that it can export its agricultural products.

It is unknown if any Ukrainian personnel stayed on the small island when it was retaken.

The U.S. and its allies have sent close to 200 NATO-standard 155 mm howitzers to Ukraine over the past two months to counteract Russia’s significant firepower advantage. Western partners have also begun delivering Himars multiple-launch rocket systems, which Kyiv has recently used to successfully attack weapons depots and fuel storage facilities throughout Russian-held areas of Donbas.

Zelenskyy said on Wednesday, “We finally feel that the Western artillery that we received from our partners is working very powerfully. Its precision really is at the level that we need. Our defenders carry out painful strikes against warehouses and other important logistic nodes of the occupiers. And this materially lowers the offensive potential of the Russian army.”

However, according to officials, Ukraine has not yet received the sophisticated air defense systems that might shield its cities from Russian missile attacks.

“Regardless of how the war develops on the battlefield, the priority is the defense of the skies,” Zelenskyy said. “We count on the arrival in Ukraine of powerful air-defense systems. This is important because it would allow women and children to return home.”

While attacking Ukrainian forces, Russia had not declared any fresh territorial victories since July 3, when it took Lysychansk and finished annexing the Luhansk area.

According to a graphic published by news outlet Nexta, 11 Russian arsenal stores had been “destroyed” between June 28 and July 6. The data came from social media websites, Ukrainian and Russian government officials, and the think tank Institute for the Study of War (ISW).

According to the Kyiv-backed Euro Maidan Press last week, there have been further Ukrainian attacks on Russia’s back-line military installations. Kyiv’s forces have targeted Russian ammunition depots with tactical missiles, planes, and artillery.

However, Ukrainian officials warned that they were running low on ammunition for their Soviet-era artillery and rockets. They requested their Western partners increase their stockpiles of artillery weapons and shells.

The invasion of Ukraine has been going on for more than four months, yet on Thursday, Russian President Vladimir Putin boasted that the fight was just getting started. And he urged Western nations backing Ukraine to “try” to meet Russia on the front lines.

In televised remarks, Putin disputed that Russia had allowed the invasion to drag on for too long, claiming that it had barely begun. He lamented the increasing difficulty of reaching a settlement to end the conflict. He then vented his anger at Western nations for putting extensive sanctions on Russia while aiding and supporting Ukraine.

“We hear today that they want us to be defeated on the battlefield,” Putin said, according to state media outlet RIA Novosti. “Well, what can I say? Let them try.”

“We have heard many times that the West wants to fight us to the last Ukrainian. This is a tragedy for the Ukrainian people, but it seems that everything is heading toward this,” he added.

“Ukrainians are not ready to give up their lands as new territories of the Russian Federation,” Zelenskyy told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer. “This is our land. We have always said this, and we will never give it up.”

Putin implied that Russian forces had not yet fully descended upon Ukraine.

“Everybody should know that largely speaking, we haven’t even yet started anything in earnest,” Putin told parliamentary leaders. “The course of history is unstoppable, and attempts by the collective West to enforce its version of the global order are doomed to fail.”

When asked if peace was still attainable, he responded that it was not impossible, but he also warned Western nations: “We do not refuse negotiating peace,” he said. “But those who refuse should know that the further they refuse, the more difficult it will be to negotiate.”

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