Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy stated that the launch of a counteroffensive is not related to the receipt of F-16 fighter jets, which would greatly help Ukraine but are not a prerequisite for the counteroffensive. In an interview with Finnish, Swedish, Danish, and Norwegian journalists, Zelenskyy emphasized the urgency of the situation and the need to start the counteroffensive as soon as possible.
"We understand that we will not delay this, and we will start (the counteroffensive - ed.) even before we have F-16s or anything else. Reassuring Russia that we need a few months to train on the aircraft and only then will we start - no, it will not happen. We will start and move forward, but at the same time, I believe it is very necessary," he said.
He added that Ukraine cannot afford to freeze the conflict to prepare its troops, as Russia would also use this time to strengthen its position.
"If we freeze this conflict, think about training our military, give time - it will not work that way, Russia will get stronger, it will establish production, many countries will leave it alone, it will learn to circumvent sanctions, time will work for Russia. And then, when it gets stronger, it will come back again," Zelenskyy said.
He added that Russia must be completely pushed out of Ukrainian territory, and only then can Russia "deal exclusively with its internal issues".
Ukraine's Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba has urged partners to begin training Ukrainian pilots on F-16s as soon as possible, and Zelenskyy recently called on Britain to lead the formation of an "air coalition" for Ukraine, which he discussed with Rishi Sunak's adviser.