Ukraine can win the war this year if Western powers increase weapons supplies, particularly long-range missile systems, Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhaylo Podolyak told AFP Wednesday.
“Only missiles with a range of more than 100 kilometers (60 miles) will allow us to significantly accelerate the de-occupation of our territories,” he told AFP in an interview.
This scenario would end the war by autumn at the latest, he added.
Long-range missiles would allow Ukraine to target Russian arms depots deep inside Ukrainian territory controlled by Moscow but currently out of range of the weapons in Kyiv’s arsenal.
The United States last year supplied Ukraine with long-range missile systems that have a range of around 80 kilometers that were credited with turning the tide of the conflict in Kyiv’s favor on several fronts.
Kyiv has also recently received similar French systems but it is putting pressure on Washington to deliver US ATACMS missiles, which boast a range of around 300 kilometers.
These systems would allow Ukrainian forces to “destroy all Russian military infrastructure in occupied territories, including in Donbas” in east Ukraine and in Crimea, the Black Sea peninsula annexed by Moscow in 2014, said Podolyak.
“We will not attack Russia,” the senior advisor said. “We are waging an exclusively defensive war.”
But without deliveries of large-scale Western heavy weapons, the war was likely to grind on for “decades,” he warned.
Heavy Tanks Needed
Ukraine also needed armor, in particular heavy tanks, such as German Leopards and artillery, said Podolyak.
“France is already delivering light tanks to us. That’s very good. But we still want to get 250 to 300 to 350 heavy tanks,” he added.
Kyiv’s other priority needs are more 155-millimeter caliber shells, combat drones capable of carrying out deep attacks inside occupied territories, and anti-aircraft systems – including German Cheetah anti-aircraft armored vehicles, said Podolyak.
Europe and the United States may soon speed up deliveries because they understand these supplies are key to ending the war, he added.
“Our partners have clearly understood today that the transfer of arms to Ukraine in sufficient quantities will make it possible to limit this war to the occupied territories,” Podolyak added.
New anti-aircraft defense systems, like US Patriots or the French Crotale will soon be able to neutralize the threat posed by Russian bombing campaigns against Ukrainian energy installations, he said.
“We will be able to close our skies in the space of a month,” he said.
Ukraine would soon be able to shoot down 95 percent of missiles fired by Russia, instead of 75 percent currently, he said.