Zelensky says NATO summit might decide on additional Patriot systems for Ukraine

Zelensky says NATO summit might decide on additional Patriot systems for Ukraine

The decision to provide Ukraine with additional Patriot air defense systems could be made at the NATO summit in Washington in July.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said this in an interview with The New York Times, Ukrinform reports.

Asked about potential cease-fire negotiations, he called for diplomacy that avoids direct talks with Russia but rallies nations behind Ukraine's positions for an eventual peace settlement. It would begin with plans to secure Ukrainian food exports to developing nations, prisoner exchanges, measures to secure a Russian-occupied nuclear power station in Ukraine's south and returning Ukrainian children whom he said were abducted and taken to Russia.

He said he hoped dozens of nations would get behind such an initiative when they gathered at the Global Peace Summit in mid-June in Switzerland. And he pressed again for a plan for Ukraine to join NATO.

He also welcomed recent suggestions by some allies that NATO send troops to train or support Ukrainian forces in Ukraine, though he added, "I don't see it, except in words."

At the same time, Zelensky also urged the alliance to come through with more F-16 fighter jets as well as Patriot air defense systems.

"Can we get seven?" he said, saying Ukraine needed more Patriot systems but would settle for that number to protect regions key to the nation's economy and energy sector.

He suggested a decision might be reached when NATO leaders gathered for a summit in Washington in July.

Read also: Putin no longer independent actor - Zelensky

Zelensky said the ability to use Western-provided weapons to strike at military targets inside Russia was essential for Ukraine's success. Only by using these weapons to destroy logistical hubs in Russia and Russian planes in Russian territory, he said, could Ukraine effectively defend itself from the recent assault in the northeast which threatens Kharkiv, Ukraine's second-largest city.

The West's primary reason for hesitating — fear of nuclear escalation — was overblown, Zelensky said, because Vladimir Putin would refrain from using nuclear weapons out of a sense of self-preservation. "He may be irrational, but he loves his own life," Zelensky said.

He also suggested that there was another reason for the West's hesitation: Some countries were seeking to retain trade and diplomatic ties with Russia. "Everyone keeps the door slightly ajar," he said.

Photo: Getty Images

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