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Zelenskyy Says NATO Needs To ‘Shoot Down’ Russian Missiles In Ukraine’s Airspace

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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Tuesday in an interview with The New York Times that member states of the NATO alliance need to step up their involvement in Kyiv’s ongoing war against Russia.

NATO, a transatlantic defense alliance comprised of European Union (EU) nations and the United States, has provided military aid to Ukraine’s ongoing fight against Russia but has thus far refrained from getting directly involved in the conflict. Zelenskyy bemoaned during his interview on Tuesday NATO’s resistance to providing more direct support in the conflict and said the alliance needs to start shooting down Russian missiles flying inside Ukrainian airspace.

Zelenskyy claimed that NATO wouldn’t be at risk of getting into a combat scenario with Russia, because any alliance involvement would be purely defensive, according to the Times.

“What’s the problem? Why can’t we shoot them down? Is it defense? Yes. Is it an attack on Russia? No. Are you shooting down Russian planes and killing Russian pilots? No. So what’s the issue with involving NATO countries in the war? There is no such issue,” Zelenskyy told the Times on Tuesday. “Shoot down what’s in the sky over Ukraine. And give us the weapons to use against Russian forces on the borders.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin has expressed that he does not wish for conflict with NATO but is ready for it, should the alliance choose to intervene directly in the war.

“Everything is possible in the modern world,” Putin told reporters in March, when asked about the possibility of a conflict between NATO and Russia. “It is clear to everyone, that this will be one step away from a full-scale World War Three. I think hardly anyone is interested in this.”

Moscow has gone as far as to raise the specter of nuclear war if NATO members choose to send troops into Ukraine to fight on Kyiv’s behalf, a possibility previously raised by French President Emmanuel Macron.

Zelenskyy also urged NATO Tuesday to send more military aid to bolster Ukraine’s defense against Russian advances. Russia has gained ground in recent months in key locations along the northeastern theater of the war, including the city of Avdiivka and regions near Donetsk and Kharkiv.

“Can we get seven?” Zelenskyy said, referring to Patriot air defense systems, telling the Times that Ukraine needed more than that number but would make do with what was available to protect key regions. He suggested an agreement might be reached during the NATO summit in July.

“Do you think it is too much for the NATO anniversary summit in Washington? For a country that is fighting for freedom and democracy around the world today?” Zelenskyy told the Times.

The U.S. recently approved a $61 billion aid package for Ukraine, including $14 billion for the direct purchase of weapons and munitions and $23 billion for replenishing the U.S.’ weapons stockpile, which can be transferred to foreign allies through the presidential drawdown authority.

Defense experts and former U.S. officials previously told the Daily Caller News Foundation that even with additional aid, Ukraine may not be any closer to achieving victory. Ukraine has suffered heavy manpower and armament losses as Russia’s military has resurged to full capacity.

“I think there’s not enough money available, either in this bill or in a much larger one, to help Ukraine achieve their goals of retaking all their territory or even go on offense in a sustained way,” Benjamin Friedman, policy director at Defense Priorities, previously told the DCNF. “So in a sense, moving forward is beyond their grasp, even if we give them a lot more weapons.”

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