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Zelenskyy laments slow progress in war with Russia, but vows Ukraine “not backing down”

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Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has acknowledged that his country’s long-planned summer counteroffensive failed to produce the results many, including himself, had likely hoped for. The Ukrainian president made the comments in an interview with The Associated Press in the eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv.

“Look, we are not backing down, I am satisfied. We are fighting with the second (best) army in the world, I am satisfied,” he told the AP, referring to Russia, which launched a full-scale invasion of his country on Feb. 24, 2022. 

“We are losing people, I’m not satisfied,” he added. “We didn’t get all the weapons we wanted, I can’t be satisfied, but I also can’t complain too much.”

Zelenskyy said the lack of forward movement by his forces trying to reclaim ground from Russian troops was due mainly to not receiving the weapons they needed from allies. “We wanted faster results. From that perspective, unfortunately, we did not achieve the desired results. And this is a fact,” he told the AP.

The AP Interview Zelenskyy
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy talks to the commander of Ukraine’s ground forces, Col.-Gen. Oleksandr Syrsky

Efrem Lukatsky / AP


The onset of winter marks the start of a phase of the Russia-Ukraine war where ground movement is even slower than usual. The Ukrainian president predicted that this would mean an increase in Russia’s air campaign.

He conceded that Ukraine has not been able to advance quickly enough and achieve major breakthroughs, but he said that’s not a reason to surrender.

The Ukrainian President also told the AP that he believed the Israel-Hamas war was diverting attention from the conflict in Ukraine at a critical moment. The crisis in the Middle East also comes ahead of an election year in the United States, where aid to Ukraine is expected to face deeper scrutiny.

“The war here is full-scale, complex, large, global. The biggest war since World War II. So we understand what the challenges may be if the focus of our allies’ attention will be scattered,” he said. “You see, attention equals help.”

Zelenskyy wants to ramp up Ukraine’s domestic arms production, enabling the country to produce its own weapons instead of depending on outside suppliers.

He said he told U.S. President Biden that Putin was afraid of Ukraine becoming militarily independent. 

“If our production becomes powerful, very powerful, we will depend mostly on ourselves,” he said. “Russia understands that all its plans for destabilization, expansion, and occupation of Ukraine will end.”

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