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Wednesday Briefing: Zelensky Speaks to The Times

“I would like to believe that there will be a victory for Ukraine,” President Volodymyr Zelensky told The Times. Credit…Daniel Berehulak/The New York Times

Zelensky urged NATO to do more in a Times interview

President Volodymyr Zelensky urged the U.S. and Europe to do more to defend Ukraine, in a wide-ranging interview with The Times. He proposed that NATO planes shoot down Russian missiles in Ukrainian airspace.

“What’s the problem?” Zelensky said during the interview on Monday in Kyiv. “Why can’t we shoot them down? Is it defense? Yes. Is it an attack on Russia? No. Are you shooting down Russian planes and killing Russian pilots? No. So what’s the issue with involving NATO countries in the war? There is no such issue.”

That kind of direct NATO involvement, which analysts say could provoke Russia to retaliate, has been resisted in Western capitals. Zelensky drew a comparison to how the U.S. and Britain helped Israel shoot down a barrage of drones and missiles from Iran last month.

Zelensky said he had also appealed to senior U.S. officials to allow Ukraine to fire U.S. missiles and other weaponry at military targets inside Russia, a tactic the U.S. continues to oppose. The inability to do so, he said, gave Russia a “huge advantage” in cross-border warfare that it is exploiting with assaults in Ukraine’s northeast.

Zelensky spoke with a mixture of frustration and bewilderment at the West’s reluctance to take bolder steps to ensure that Ukraine wins the war.

His pleas came at a critical time for Ukraine’s war effort. Its army is in retreat and a new package of U.S. arms has yet to arrive in sufficient quantities. Not since the early days of the war has Ukraine faced as grave a military challenge, analysts say.

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