Facebook Pixel

Zaluzhnyi on the counteroffensive, riots in France, and a call to NATO: a digest from June 26–30

Why Ukraine needs fighter jets and how NATO can stop the war: a digest from June 26–30

Why Ukraine needs fighter jets and how NATO can stop the war: a digest from June 26–30

Ukrainian Commander-in-Chief Valerii Zaluzhnyi explained why Kyiv needed fighter jets; riots are ongoing in France after police shooting of a teenager; Hungary once again blocks aid to Ukraine.

Meanwhile, Ivo Daalder, former U.S. ambassador to NATO, explained when NATO should directly intervene in the war in Ukraine, and former U.S. Vice President Mike Pence came to Kyiv to pledge support.

The Page offers a digest of Western mass media at the end of the June 26–30, 2023, business week.

Valerii Zaluzhnyi: thousands of people die for the lack of shells and fighter jets

Valerii Zaluzhnyi: thousands of people die for the lack of shells and fighter jets. Photo: Getty Images

Valerii Zaluzhnyi: thousands of people die for the lack of shells and fighter jets. Photo: Getty Images

In a rare interview with The Washington Post, Ukrainian Commander-in-Chief Valerii Zaluzhnyi expressed frustration that while his biggest Western backers would never launch an offensive without air superiority, Ukraine still has not received modern fighter jets but is expected to rapidly take back territory from the occupying Russians.

Zaluzhnyi also said that Ukrainian Defense Forces needed to fire at least as many artillery shells as their enemy but have been outshot tenfold at times because of limited resources.

So it "pisses me off," Zaluzhny said, when he hears that Ukraine’s long-awaited counteroffensive in the country’s east and south has started slower than expected.

Quote "It's not a show the whole world is watching and betting on or anything. Every day, every meter is given by blood," Zaluzhnyi said

The questions that weigh on him daily: When will Ukraine’s Western partners provide the arms he needs, particularly more ammunition and the F-16s? And how can he be expected to get the job done without them?

Zaluzhnyi said he relays his concerns to General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, several times per week.

Quote"We have an agreement: 24/7, we’re in touch. So, sometimes I can call up and say, ‘If I don’t get 100,000 shells in a week, 1,000 people will die. Step into my shoes,’" he said.

But it’s not Milley who decides whether we get planes or not, Zaluzhny said.

Quote"It’s just that while that decision is being made, in the obvious situation, a lot of people die every day — a lot."

Why Leopards won’t turn the tide without fighter jets


Ahead of the long-planned counteroffensive, Ukraine for the first time received Western battle tanks, including German-made Leopards. Those tanks debuted on the battlefield, and several have already been destroyed, Zaluzhny acknowledged, adding:

Quote"We didn’t get Leopards to ride in parades or have politicians or celebrities take pictures with them. They came here for the war. And a Leopard on the battlefield is not a Leopard but a target."

In his command post, Zaluzhny has a screen that shows him the aviation from NATO countries at Ukraine’s western border, Ukrainian, and Russian planes.

Quote"Let’s just say the number of aircraft that are on duty near our western borders is twice as much as the number of Russian aircraft devastating our positions. Why can’t we take at least a third of it from there and move it here?"

According to him, a very limited number would be enough, but they are needed because the enemy is using a different generation of aviation:

Quote"It’s like we’d go on the offensive with bows and arrows now, and everyone would say, ‘Are you crazy?’"

One worst-case scenario Zaluzhnyi must consider is the threat that Putin might deploy a nuclear weapon. Last week, Ukrainian intelligence received information that Russian forces were preparing a "terrorist act with the release of radiation" at the occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant.

Quote"It doesn’t stop me at all," Zaluzhnyi said. "We are doing our job. All these signals come from outside for some reason: ‘Be afraid of a nuclear strike.’ Well, should we give up?"

Riots in France: Where and why

Emmanuel Macron holds a crisis meeting because of unrest in France. Photo: Getty Images

Emmanuel Macron holds a crisis meeting because of unrest in France. Photo: Getty Images

French President Emmanuel Macron holds another crisis meeting of ministers amid unrest that has spread across the country after the police shooting of a teenager earlier this week, The Guardian reports.

A total of 667 people were arrested across France into the early hours of Friday morning, June 30.

There were riots in:

  • Dijon;
  • several towns in Burgundy;
  • the center of Marseille in the south;
  • in and around Lille in the north;
  • Rennes;
  • Lyon;
  • Toulouse;
  • Pau;
  • Montpellier.
Photo: Getty Images

Photo: Getty Images

Protesters clashed with police in Paris, burning bins and for the first time, there was looting of shops in the centre of the capital. At least three towns around Paris, including Clamart, Compiègne and Neuilly-sur-Marne, imposed full or partial night-time curfews.

The protests were sparked by the police shooting of a 17-year-old known as Nahel of Algerian and Moroccan descent. Prosecutor Pascal Prache said on Thursday that Nahel died from a single shot through his left arm and chest while driving off after being stopped by police.

The officer said he had opened fire because he feared that he and his colleague or someone else could be hit by the car, according to Prache.

A lawyer for the officer accused of shooting the teenager, Laurent-Franck Lienard, said the officer had aimed down towards the driver’s leg but was bumped, causing him to shoot towards his chest.

Quote"He had to be stopped, but obviously [the officer] didn’t want to kill the driver," he said, adding that his client’s detention was being used to try to calm rioters.

Hungary opposes granting money to Ukraine

Orban made another statement against aid to Ukraine. Photo: Getty Images

Orban made another statement against aid to Ukraine. Photo: Getty Images

Hungary rejects the European Commission's plans to grant more money to Ukraine and is not willing to contribute additional money to finance the EU's increased debt service costs, Prime Minister Viktor Orban said on Friday on the sidelines of the EU summit in Brussels, cited by Reuters.

The European Union will provide Ukraine with 50 billion euros ($54.30 billion) in aid for 2024-27, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said on June 20. This comes after a review of the EU's 2021-27 shared budget, which has been depleted by the COVID-19 pandemic, the war in Ukraine and an energy crisis. High inflation and interest rates have also doubled debt-servicing costs.

Quote"One thing is clear, we Hungarians ... will not give more money to Ukraine until they say where the previous around 70 billion euros worth of funds had gone. And we find it utterly ridiculous and absurd, that we should contribute more money to finance debt service costs of a loan, from which we have still not received the funds we are entitled to get," Orban said.

The European Commission has blocked the recovery funds for Hungary and Poland over accusations that the two countries' nationalist governments damage democracy and the rule of law.

When should NATO enter the war?

In case of a nuclear accident at the Zaporizhzhia NPP, NATO must stop Putin. Photo: Getty Images

In case of a nuclear accident at the Zaporizhzhia NPP, NATO must stop Putin. Photo: Getty Images

Russian President Vladimir Putin now faces the gravest crisis of his quarter-century presidency, Ivo Daalder, former U.S. ambassador to NATO, argues in his op-ed for Politico.

His weakness has been exposed: None of Russia’s security forces stood in the way of the Wagner Group’s march to Moscow, and those who did were swiftly dealt with. The people of Rostov-on-Don greeted the mercenaries with waves and open arms. And only Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko could convince Wagner head Yevgeny Prigozhin to stand down.

The immediate consequence of these developments is that both Putin and those around him are now intensely preoccupied with their own power and position. This is particularly true for the military leadership, headed by Minister of Defense Sergei Shoygu and Chief of the General Staff Valery Gerasimov.

Meanwhile, Ukraine’s counteroffensive is gathering speed. The nine Western trained and equipped brigades are advancing along three different axes in the east and south.

No one knows what Putin will do next. The criticism of his war and the Russian military is now very much out in the open. Therefore, one way for Putin to try to regain the initiative is to double down on the war in Ukraine. There are already worries that Russian forces have prepared to blow up the nuclear power plant in Zaporizhzhia, just as they did the Kakhovka hydroelectric dam. Putin can also resort to a desperate step of using nuclear weapons.

Avoiding such escalation must be an absolute priority, Daalder argues: In case of any deliberate nuclear incident, the U.S. and key NATO allies need to intervene directly and bring the war to a swift and complete end by helping Ukraine restore control over all its territory.

Mike Pence in Kyiv: how U.S. presidential candidates support Ukraine

Mike Pence pledged support to Kyiv. Photo: Getty Images

Mike Pence pledged support to Kyiv. Photo: Getty Images

Former U.S. Vice President and a 2024 presidential candidate Mike Pence told CNN on Thursday that "repelling Russian aggression" is in the United States’ "national interest," after meeting with the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Kyiv.

Quote"By giving Ukraine what they need to repel the Russian invasion, we’re not only going to send a message to Russia that their efforts to redraw international lines by force will not be tolerated. But other nations like China, that’s continuing to engage in menacing military actions across the Asia Pacific, will get the message that the free world will stand together, precisely as we’ve done here."

He has also called Putin a "war criminal" and said there’s "no room for Putin apologists in the Republican Party."

Pence assured President Volodymyr Zelenskyy that the U.S. will continue to stand with Ukraine until victory is achieved, and also justice is achieved.

The former vice president visited Bucha, Irpin and Moschun outside of Kyiv. He toured the wreckage, met with locals and laid flowers at memorials for those killed in the war.

Pence’s visit marked the first from a Republican presidential candidate since the 2024 race got underway. Pence has been a strong advocate for U.S. support for Ukraine. Former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley and South Carolina Senator Tim Scott also share this position, while former President Donald Trump and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis argue that the aid should be limited.

Thank 🎉