Zelenskyy urges G7 to provide anti-missile systems for Ukraine

EuroActiv Politico News

ELMAU, Germany — Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Monday urged G7 leaders to supply his country with sophisticated missile defense systems and additional aid that would tilt the war against Russia in Ukraine’s favor as quickly as possible.

Zelenskyy also requested greater financial assistance for his war-ravaged country, as well as additional sanctions against Russia to continue punishing the Kremlin for its invasion, according to a summary of Zelenskyy’s remarks issued by his office and according to Western officials who listened to his comments.

Speaking by video link to the leaders of the world’s major democratic economic powers, who are gathered in the Bavarian mountains of Germany for a summit, Zelenskyy described a missile attack that struck Kyiv, his capital, on Sunday.

“Our state needs modern and effective missile defense systems that can provide peace to Ukrainian cities far from the front,” Zelenskyy told the leaders, according to the readout provided by his office. “Russia is intensifying rocket attacks on Ukraine, so it is very important to guarantee basic security to the civilian population.”

Jake Sullivan, the U.S. national security adviser who is attending the summit with President Joe Biden, told reporters in Elmau that Washington is preparing to grant Zelenskyy’s request on air defense systems, and also working with allies to funnel additional weapons and funds.

“I can confirm that we are, in fact, in the process of finalizing a package that includes advanced air defense capabilities,” Sullivan said, adding that Biden had told the Ukrainian president: “We do intend to finalize a package that includes advanced medium- and long-range air defense capabilities for the Ukrainians, along with some other items that are of urgent need, including ammunition for artillery and counter-battery radar systems.”

Russian forces are now occupying a large swath of southern and eastern Ukraine, including a so-called land bridge to Crimea, the peninsula that Russia invaded and annexed in 2014. Russian President Vladimir Putin’s armies failed in an initial attempt to seize Kyiv and topple Zelenskyy’s government, but are now focused on the eastern Donbas region, where they have made significant gains despite heavy casualties.

Sunday’s missile attack on Kyiv killed at least one man and injured a child when a residential apartment tower was damaged. It was the first strike on the capital in several weeks and appeared to be timed to coincide with the G7 summit, where the war in Ukraine has dominated the discussion. Leaders promised Monday to extend their financial, military and humanitarian support to Ukraine “for as long as it takes.”

Sullivan told reporters that on the video call Zelensky described Sunday’s attack and told the leaders that he wanted “additional air defense capabilities that could shoot down missiles out of the sky.” Summing up the conversation, Sullivan said: “A lot of it was detailed and sensitive. It was a real conversation about strategy.”

He added: “What we’re trying to do with this point is tailor our military assistance to the particular, immediate needs of Ukrainians on the battlefield at a given point in time.”

The Ukrainian president expressed a keen desire to tilt the war in his favor over the coming months — before winter. Ukraine is confronting a monthly budget shortfall of between €5 billion and €7 billion and the country is staying afloat entirely thanks to Western financing.

Zelenskyy also used the call to reiterate his happiness over the European Council’s decision last week to formally grant EU candidate status to Ukraine, and he urged the G7 to begin working toward developing security guarantees that might protect the country in the future.

Such a scenario, however, seems far off given that Zelenskyy himself has suggested he would be only willing to accept any kind of cease-fire after Russian forces withdraw or at least go back to their positions from before the major invasion began on February 24.

In a meeting on Sunday with French President Emmanuel Macron, U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned that it would be a mistake to try to impose a cease-fire or reach any settlement with Russia right now because battlefield positions currently favor Moscow.

According to Sullivan, Zelenskyy made clear he wants to end the war as quickly as possible.

“He believes that a grinding conflict is not in the interest of the Ukrainian people for obvious reasons,” Sullivan said. “So he would like to see his military and those in the West who are supporting his military and making maximum use of the next few months to put Ukraine in as good a position as they can possibly be in.”