In an interview with European broadcasters on Thursday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelesnky said Kyiv is delaying its spring offensive against Russian forces in the occupied territories while it awaits the shipment of additional weapons and equipment from the West that are needed to achieve success without suffering mass casualties, the Associated Press reported.
Zelensky revealed the delay during an interview with the Eurovision News broadcasters that aired shortly before the UK announced that it had sent long-range stealth cruise missiles to Ukraine.
The counteroffensive has been anticipated since spring weather improved conditions on the battlefield. Zelensky told the broadcasters that he believes Ukraine would be successful if it went ahead with the counteroffensive now, but said the country would “lose a lot of people.”
To prevent an unacceptable loss of life, Kyiv will need to wait, Zelesnky said. He added that the country needs “a bit more time” to wait for the weapons and equipment that have not yet arrived from the West.
Some analysts suggest that Zelensky’s remarks could be designed to keep Moscow guessing as to when the counteroffensive begins, the AP reported.
On Thursday, CNN reported that the UK had sent multiple long-range Storm Shadow stealth cruise missiles to Ukraine.
The air-launched missiles, which were developed by France and the UK, have a firing range of over 155 miles, just shy of the 185-mile range of the US-made Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS) that Ukraine had requested.
With a range of 155 miles, the Storm Shadow cruise missiles would enable Ukraine to strike deep within the Russian-occupied regions in the east.
The US and its Western allies expressed concern about sending long-range missiles to Ukraine fearing that Kyiv might use the weapons to strike within Russia, provoking the Kremlin to escalate the war. However, in receiving the Storm Shadow missiles, Kyiv pledged not to use them to launch attacks within Russia itself.