Volodymyr Zelensky has said that his forces cannot launch a counter-offensive without more Himars and other equipment from the US.
During an interview with the Japanese newspaper Yomiuri Shimbun, Mr Zelensky said: “We can’t launch it yet. Without tanks, artillery and Himars, we cannot send our brave soldiers to the frontlines.”
Himars, or high-mobility artillery rocket systems, can fire shells up to 50 miles.
They have been a game-changer on the battlefield since they were sent by the US last summer, hitting Russian ammunition depots, command centres and barracks behind the frontlines.
Ukrainian military commanders have talked up a spring offensive and have so far refused to retreat from Bakhmut, in Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region where Russia has concentrated its attacks to give the army more time to prepare for the spring battle.
But Ukraine’s Western allies have said that Ukrainian forces have been firing ammunition at a faster rate than they can be resupplied. It is also taking time for Nato countries to send modern tanks and other kit to Ukraine.
The US has so far sent at least 20 Himars and some military commanders have expressed concern about the time it will take to replace inventory being sent to Ukraine.
Lockheed Martin, which makes the weapons, recently said it was increasing production from 60 to 96 a year.
The US has sent so many Stinger missiles it would take 13 years, at current production capacity, to replace them.
Mr Zelensky described the outlook for Ukrainian forces in Bakhmut as “unfavourable”, although the Ministry of Defence said Russia’s advance has stalled.
“This is likely primarily a result of extreme attrition of the Russian force,” it said in its daily intelligence briefing.
Rows over ammunition supplies between the Kremlin and the private Wagner military group have weakened Russian efforts to push home its advances and force Ukrainian forces to retreat.
Instead, the MoD said Russian forces had given up on capturing all of Bakhmut and were now concentrating on Avdiivka to the south and on Kremina-Svatove to the north.
“This suggests an overall return to a more defensive operational design,” it said.
In his interview, Mr Zelensky said he still intended to recapture all of Ukraine, including Crimea which Russia illegally annexed in 2014.
This means, he said, that the Chinese peace plan that Mr Xi presented to Mr Putin on Tuesday was meaningless without respect for Ukraine’s “sovereignty and territorial integrity”.
And despite this promise to discuss his peace plan with the Ukrainian government, Mr Zelensky said that he still hadn’t heard from Mr Xi.
“I did not get a proposal from China to mediate. I didn’t get the proposal to meet,” he said.
“I want to speak with the leader of China.”
Ukraine’s Western allies have been sceptical of China’s peace plan too, describing it as a thinly veiled effort to push the Kremlin’s agenda.
Mr Xi’s three-day trip to Moscow this week was seen as a major show of support for Mr Putin.
The post We need more weapons to launch counter-offensive for Bahkmut, says Zelensky appeared first on The Telegraph.