Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has accused his Western allies of sharing responsibility for casualties after their lack of action.
“While Russians are to blame for the killings, responsibility is shared by those who for 13 days in their Western offices haven’t been able to approve an obviously necessary decision, who didn’t save our cities from these bombs and missiles – although they can,” Zelenskyy was quoted by The Kyiv Independent newspaper.
Several cities and airbases in Ukraine have been bombed, shelled or hit with ballistic missiles since Russia launched its full-scale invasion on February 24.
Moscow has called the campaign it launched on February 24 a “special military operation”, saying it has no plans to occupy Ukraine, which was once part of the Soviet Union under Moscow’s sway but which has now turned to the West and is seeking NATO and European Union membership.
Zelenskyy has repeatedly called for Western powers to enforce a no-fly zone over Ukraine to prevent more Russian attacks.
“We repeat every day: close the sky over Ukraine. Close for all Russian missiles, for Russian combat aircraft, for all their terrorists,” Zelenskyy said on Sunday.
“If you don’t, if you don’t give us at least planes so we can protect ourselves, there’s only one thing to conclude: you want us to be killed very slowly.”
Ukraine’s air force fleet consists of ageing Soviet-era MiG-29 and Sukhoi-27 jets, used for aerial combat or supporting ground troops, and heavier Sukhoi-25 jets to take out ground targets, according to the Military Balance assessment by the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS).
These are the only planes Ukrainian pilots could fly immediately without additional training.