Dec 1, 2023 - World

Zelensky: Ukraine can't let world "forget about war here"

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky with soldiers and other Ukrianian political officials in Kharkiv, Ukraine, on Nov. 30.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky with soldiers and other Ukrianian political officials in Kharkiv, Ukraine, on Nov. 30. Photo: Ukrainian Presidency/Anadolu via Getty Images

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said that he fears the Israel-Hamas war could overshadow Russia's war against his country, the AP reports.

Driving the news: "We already can see the consequences of the international community shifting (attention) because of the tragedy in the Middle East," Zelensky said in an interview published Thursday. "Only the blind don't recognize this."

  • He added that Ukrainians understand "that we also need to fight for attention for the full-scale war. We must not allow people to forget about the war here."

The big picture: Zelensky's comments come as U.S. military aid to Ukraine is at risk of being scaled back or diverted elsewhere, even as Kyiv has said it needs additional supplies to maintain its defense against Russian forces.

  • Political chaos in Congress and opposition from some Republicans have stalled President Biden's request for additional military aid for Ukraine.
  • House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) said earlier this week he's "confident and optimistic" additional aid for Ukraine and Israel will pass the House.
  • However, legislation that may be passed by the Senate that combines Ukraine and Israel aid with border security funding will likely lead to tense negotiations amongst House Republicans.

Of note: Zelensky said that Ukraine's summer counteroffensive did not unfold as hoped.

  • "We wanted faster results," he said. "From that perspective, unfortunately, we did not achieve the desired results. And this is a fact,"
  • He added that Ukraine did not get the weaponry it needed to make significant gains against the larger Russian military.

State of play: Zelensky warned that the war is entering "a new phase," one with harsh conditions that will likely include widespread Russian aerial assaults against critical infrastructure.

  • Russia launched its largest drone attack of the war against Kyiv in November, using over 70 Iranian-produced drones.
  • Ukrainian air defenses destroyed many of the drones, but the attack may have marked the beginning of Russia's expected winter bombardment against Ukrainian energy facilities and other civilian infrastructure.
  • Ukraine has additional air defense systems this year to combat Russian air strikes, but it's unclear if the country has enough ammunition for those systems to defend against multiple large-scale bombing attacks.
  • If Russia's strikes do pierce Ukraine's defenses, they will likely exacerbated the widespread humanitarian crisis Moscow's invasion has created in the country.
  • "That is why a winter war is difficult," Zelensky said.

Go deeper ... Majority of Republicans oppose Ukraine aid as partisan divide grows: poll

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