Ukraine PM calls for long-range missiles to fight back Russia

Shmyhal says delays in providing long-range artillery, missile equipment is ‘main danger for us on the battlefield’.

Ukraine needs long-range missiles and other ammunition to repel Russian troops, Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal has said, as the country nears its third year of war amid battle losses and shrinking foreign aid.

Speaking during a visit to Japan on Tuesday, Shmyhal said Ukraine has modern equipment and trained soldiers and is fighting at NATO standards, but the country needs more long-range missiles for air defence against Russia on the front line.

“Unfortunately, now they prevail in the air and unfortunately this leads to some consequences from the front line, but I should say that we have no refuses from our partners to supply military equipment to Ukraine,” he said.

Shmyhal’s comments came as ammunition shortages and limited manpower are causing Ukraine some serious losses on the battlefield.

On Sunday, Russian troops captured Avdiivka, a key hub city to access the industrial Donbas region, marking their biggest success since the fall of Bakhmut in May.

But support from Western powers has been facing pushback over growing costs, while lawmakers in Washington continued to wrangle over a military aid package for Kyiv.

Should the $95bn foreign aid package survive a vote in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives, US media reports suggest that President Joe Biden is considering including long-range ballistic missiles. These are weapons with a longer reach compared with the medium-range missiles sent so far by the United States. They would allow Ukraine to hit inside the Russian-controlled Crimean Peninsula.

The US has until now provided Ukraine with about $111bn, largely in weapons but also equipment and humanitarian assistance.

When Ukraine begins fielding F-16 fighter jets later this year, “we will balance the situation on the battlefield and it will be much easier for us”, Shmyhal said. But currently, with the ongoing shortage of long-range artillery and missile equipment, “if it will be stopped, if it will be delayed, this is the main danger for us on the battlefield”.

On Tuesday, Sweden said it would give $682m worth of military equipment to Ukraine.

“The reason we are continuing to support Ukraine is a matter of humanity and decency. Russia started an illegal, unprovoked and indefensible war,” Defence Minister Pal Jonson told a news conference.

Shmyhal was in Tokyo to meet Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida whose country hopes to build momentum for global support for Ukraine as the war drags on and attention has been diverted to the conflict in Gaza.

Japan has focused on reconstruction aid, in part due to constitutional restraints on providing lethal weapons.

The previous day, Kishida promised a long-term commitment to Ukraine’s reconstruction at a conference focused on economic growth.

During their meeting, Shmyhal also called for new sanctions on Russia following the death of prominent opposition leader Alexey Navalny.

The 47-year-old critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin died on Friday in a remote prison colony in Russia under circumstances that remain murky. Navalny’s death prompted global outrage, with many Western leaders, including Biden, blaming Putin.

“We are fighting for democratic values for all the democratic world, this is an existential war of democracy against autocracy,” Shmyhal said on Tuesday during the news conference in Tokyo.

Germany, Lithuania and Sweden have also called for new penalties on Moscow during a meeting of the European Union’s top diplomats.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies