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Counteroffensive to start despite no Western aircraft: Zelenskyy

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Saturday said Kyiv will launch its counter-offensive against Russian forces despite not having received Western fighter aircraft.

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The president has on multiple occasions appealed to widen the scope of Western military aid for Ukraine.

“Frankly speaking, it would help us a lot. But we also understand that we can’t drag it [the counteroffensive] out, which is why we’ll start before we receive F-16 [aircraft] or other models,” he said.

Speaking to Scandinavian journalists in Kyiv, he added that there were countries that have F-16 and other “Western kind aircraft” that were “ready to help us.” Zelenskyy did not specify which countries those were.

The Ukrainian airforce only has Soviet-era fighter aircraft.

Earlier, Zelenskyy had pressed NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg on this point at a meeting in Kyiv on April 20, and said it was time for the military alliance to open its doors to Ukrainian membership.

After weathering a Russian winter and spring offensive that has made only small advances in the east, Ukraine now hopes to retake land in its south and east in a counteroffensive in the coming weeks or months.

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