Zelensky in Vilnius calls for implementation of Western aid initiatives, wants air defense

  • 2024-04-11
  • BNS/TBT Staff

VILNIUS - Initiatives to support war-torn Ukraine must not only be launched but also implemented, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in Vilnius on Thursday.

He once again called on the West to send air defense systems to Ukraine as Russia has increased missile and drone attacks on Ukraine in recent weeks.

"All the initiatives when they begin, they begin very loudly, it's important to finish them with the result for Ukraine, if we are speaking about the 155 artillery initiative or others," he told reporters at the Presidential Palace.

He was speaking after the EU failed to keep its promise to send one million artillery shells to Ukraine by March 1.

In late February, the Czech Republic announced a new international initiative to buy hundreds of thousands of artillery shells for Ukraine from third countries. Lithuania has also joined this initiative by deciding to contribute 35 million euros.

During his meeting with the Lithuanian president, Zelensky also stressed the need for air defense systems.

"It is our biggest challenge today and you know that we were attacked last night, this early morning. Again, Kharkiv, again, Odessa, Zaporizhzhia, the Kyiv region, a lot of our regions, people. That is why for us the air defense is (...) the priority number one," the Ukrainian leader said.

For his part, Nauseda said Lithuania "is committed to do the best" to provide necessary assistance to Ukraine, adding, however, that the country's resources are limited.

"However, we are ready to supply you with anti-drone systems, armored vehicles, logistic vehicles, also some kind of 155 mm ammunition," he said. "This his is not easy but we are trying to do our best."

As the NATO Washington Summit approaches, the Lithuanian president stressed that Western partners must find a formula to bring Ukraine closer to the Alliance.

The two leaders also hope that EU leaders would endorse a negotiating framework for Ukraine in June.

The decision to open accession negotiations with Ukraine was made by EU leaders late last year. Lithuania is actively supporting Kyiv's membership and vows to help it implement the necessary reforms.