Zelenskyy says Western hesitation on aid emboldens Putin

President Zelenskyy says air defences must be strengthened and ammunition replenished during visit to Lithuania.

Lithuania's President Gitanas Nauseda and Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy
Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Lithuania's President Gitanas Nauseda listen to a national anthem, in Vilnius, Lithuania [Ints Kalnins/Reuters]

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has warned that Western hesitation on aid is emboldening Russia – comments he made during a visit to Lithuania as he embarked on a previously unannounced tour of three Baltic states.

On Wednesday, Zelenskyy told his Lithuanian counterpart that Ukraine must strengthen its air defences and replenish its ammunition supplies as Russia intensifies its missile and drone attacks in its nearly two-year war on Ukraine.

“We have proven that Russia can be stopped, that deterrence is possible,” he said after talks with Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda.

“Sometimes, the insecurity of partners regarding financial and military aid to Ukraine only increases Russia’s courage and strength,” he said.

“He [Russian President Vladimir Putin] won’t finish this [war] until we all finish him together,” Zelenskyy said, adding, “Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Moldova may be next.”

The Ukrainian leader also thanked Lithuania for its military assistance and goodwill.

“We know how tiring this long-running war is, and we are interested in Ukraine’s complete victory in it as soon as possible,” Nauseda told reporters.


He said Vilnius would send M577 armoured vehicles to Kyiv next month, part of a previously announced 200-million-euro ($220m) package of military aid.

Announcing his arrival on social media on Wednesday, Zelenskyy said he would go on to Latvia and Estonia in the coming days.

“Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania are our reliable friends and principled partners. Today, I arrived in Vilnius before going to Tallinn and Riga,” Zelenskyy wrote on X.

“Security, EU and NATO integration, cooperation on electronic warfare and drones, and further coordination of European support are all on the agenda.”

In Estonia, Prime Minister Kaja Kallas reiterated the country’s support for Ukraine.

“These are crucial times, and we need to keep our focus,” she said.

Foreign Minister Margus Tsahkna said that Tallinn was ready “to allocate 0.25 percent of its GDP to military aid to Ukraine” over the next four years.

“It’s way cheaper to support Ukraine now compared to the price the international community would have to pay if Russia would reach the goals of this merciless aggression,” said Tsahkna.

The countries on the Baltic Sea are among Ukraine’s staunchest political, financial and military supporters. Zelenskyy’s visit comes ahead of the second anniversary of Russia’s February 2022 full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

With the prospects of a protracted war growing, Ukraine has been appealing to its Western allies for more financial and military assistance.

Ukraine has come under intense Russian shelling in recent weeks and retaliated with strikes on Russia’s border city of Belgorod.

A European Union aid package worth 50 billion euros ($55bn) has been in limbo following a veto by Hungary, while the United States Congress remains divided on sending additional aid to Kyiv.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies