Zelenskyy appeals to Northern European leaders for more weapons

On Monday, Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy asked Western leaders convening in Latvia, including British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, to supply a wide range of weapons systems to help terminate Europe's deadliest conflict since WWII sooner.

U.S.-led Western allies have been channelling Ukraine with funding, military training and weapons but Kyiv’s needs are still valid to tip the balance in the defensive war that Russia brought upon it almost 10 months ago.

“A lot depends on you – how this war will end. The more successful our defence forces are, the faster the Russian aggression will fail,” Zelenskyy, via a video call, told leaders of countries in the Joint Expeditionary Force (JEF), a British-led grouping of Northern European countries: Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, and Sweden.

I ask you to increase the possibility of supplying air defence systems to our country, and to help speed up the relevant decisions to be taken by our partners,” Zelenskyy said, addressing Sunak.

Following the meeting, Lithuanian President Gitanas Nausėda told Reuters that there was not enough time to discuss Zelenskyy's detailed list of requests. However, responding earlier to the Ukrainian leader's plea, PM Sunak said the gathering aimed to focus on “how best we can continue to support you and get you everything that you need”.

In a clear reference to Berlin’s stance, Zelenskyy said “there is no explanation” why Ukraine was not supplied by German-made Leopard tanks. He also turned to the Netherlands, whose forces use the tanks, asking to “please talk about this decision together with your partners.”

For our defence operations to be more successful we need armoured vehicles, primarily tanks,” said Zelenskyy.

It is necessary to stress that Germany is not part of the JEF grouping and hence was not present at the Riga meeting.

The Ukrainian president went on to say, as cited by Ukraine’s Interfax press agency, that “tonight, Ukraine was attacked again by 34 Iranian Shahed-136 drones… Those UAVs were in the latest batch that Iran had handed over to Russia. The terrorist state received 250 drones more.”

He added that as many as 22,408,000 Ukrainian citizens were left powercut and over 10 mln without running water and heating as a result of a Russian massive missile strike on Friday.

Ukraine’s military needs

The Ukrainian president went on to ask Norway to supply more Norway-made NASAMS launchers and missiles. He also sought Sweden to deliver more Swedish-produced Gripen fighter aircraft, RBS 98 missiles and Archer artillery.

Turning to Denmark, he asked the country to transfer CAESAR howitzers to Ukraine. From Finland, Zelenskyy would like to receive more ammunition shells, and from Lithuania NASAM as well as Stinger missiles. He told Latvia of Ukraine’s need for artillery and asked Estonia for howitzers and ammunition.

“The sooner we restore our border control, the stronger your security will be,” Zelenskyy said. “Ukrainian children in their letters to St Nicholas ask for air defence, for weapons, for victory,” he said, referring to the name used for Santa Claus in Ukraine.