Zelensky foresees challenging period ahead as Ukraine braces for potential Russian offensive


26th February 2024 – (Kyiv) Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has projected a period of strategic trials for Kyiv, anticipating a renewed Russian military push as early as the end of May or during the onset of summer. Addressing journalists in the capital, Zelensky highlighted the importance of unity between Ukraine and its Western allies in the face of what he predicts will be a trying couple of months, followed by an aggressive Russian campaign.

During a comprehensive news conference on Sunday, the Ukrainian leader conveyed his belief that the Russian forces will likely ramp up their operations, stating, “If they are able to. They will prepare.” Despite the potential escalation, Zelensky expressed confidence in Ukraine’s preparedness, dismissing the impacts of the assault initiated by Moscow on 8th October, which he deemed ineffective. “We, for our part, will prepare our plan and follow it,” he affirmed.

The remarks come just after Ukraine commemorated the second anniversary of the full-scale Russian invasion. Amidst the backdrop of a drawn-out front line, Ukrainian forces are grappling with multiple challenges, including artillery shortages and a deficiency in reinforcements.

In a poignant revelation, Zelensky disclosed the toll on Ukrainian forces, citing that 31,000 soldiers had fallen since the conflict’s escalation in February 2022. This figure represents the first official casualty count released in over a year.

The President also voiced optimism regarding the continuance of U.S. support, emphasising an urgent need for the new tranche of military and financial aid to be sanctioned within the upcoming month. He highlighted the dependency of Ukraine’s military efforts on Western assistance, while pointing out that the European Union had delivered a mere 30% of the 1 million artillery shells pledged to Kyiv.

As the war dynamics evolve, with Russia having secured its most significant gains this month since May 2023, Zelensky remained positive about the provision of long-range missiles from allies, noting, “They know that we need support within a month.”

In terms of Ukraine’s military tactics, the President assured that a robust plan was in place, though he chose to withhold specifics to maintain operational security. This statement follows a recent high-profile reshuffling within the Ukrainian military leadership, part of a broader strategic framework that Zelensky is keeping close to his chest.

Looking ahead, Kyiv is setting its sights on a summit in Switzerland this spring to discuss its vision for peace with supportive nations, before presenting it to Russia. Zelensky stressed the necessity of seizing this diplomatic opportunity.