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Zelenskyy: Ukraine counteroffensive needs more time, launching now would cost too many lives

Members of a Ukrainian air-defense unit demonstrate their work near Kyiv on Monday, May 8, 2023. From camouflaged positions, the units dart out by truck into the farm fields around the capital, ready to take down enemy drones or missiles. Since Russia resumed regular air attacks on April 28, the units have a perfect score, intercepting every drone and missile shot at the capital. (AP Photo/Andrew Kravchenko)

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says his country’s military needs more time to prepare an anticipated counteroffensive aimed at pushing back Russian occupying forces.

Zelenskyy said in an interview broadcast Thursday by the BBC that it would be “unacceptable” to launch the assault now because too many lives would be lost.

“With (what we have) we can go forward and be successful,” Zelenskyy said in the interview, according to the BBC.

“But we’d lose a lot of people. I think that’s unacceptable,” he was quoted as saying. The interview was reportedly carried out in Kyiv with public service broadcasters who are members of Eurovision News, including the BBC.

“So we need to wait. We still need a bit more time,” Zelenskyy was quoted as saying.

A Ukrainian fightback against Russia's invasion more than 14 months ago has been expected for weeks. Ukraine is receiving advanced Western weapons, including tanks and other armored vehicles, and Western training for its troops as it gears up for an expected assault.

The Kremlin's forces are deeply entrenched in eastern areas of Ukraine with layered defensive lines reportedly up to 20 kilometers (12 miles) deep. Kyiv's counteroffensive would likely face minefields, anti-tank ditches and other obstacles.


Follow AP’s coverage of the war in Ukraine at

Susie Blann, The Associated Press

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