West's stance on Ukraine war 'completely nonsensical,' says UK defense secretary

The West's current stance on the war in Ukraine and delays in military aid are "completely nonsensical," the U.K's defense secretary said on May 19.

In an interview with Sky News, Grant Shapps was asked about comments made earlier this week by President Volodymyr Zelensky, who said Ukraine's international partners "are afraid of Russia losing the war" and would like Kyiv "to win in such a way that Russia does not lose."

Sky News presenter Trevor Phillips asked if the West was "creating a stalemate in the war with Russia in which tens of thousands of people are dying needlessly."

In reply, Shapps said he visited Kyiv in March and made a "very similar point."

"It was a wake-up moment for the West and that by delaying what we should be doing… we were running the risk of doing exactly what President Zelensky is concerned about," he said, referencing delays in U.S. military aid to Ukraine.

"I think this is completely nonsensical for the West. We have to understand we are in an existential battle about the way we run the world order and about democracy itself."

Shapps added that delays in Western military aid particularly from the U.S. were having very visible effects on the battlefield and Russia's advances into Ukraine's Kharkiv region in recent days were a direct consequence.

"Now I'm confident that Ukraine will be able to repel that but there's a few difficult weeks ahead," he said, added that the current situation around Kharkiv "didn't need to happen."

In a meeting with journalists on May 16 attended by the Kyiv Independent, Zelensky said Kyiv's allies "fear" Russia's loss in the war against Ukraine because it would involve "unpredictable geopolitics."

"I don't think it works that way. For Ukraine to win, we need to be given everything with which one can win," he said.

His statement came on May 16 amid Russia's large-scale offensive in Kharkiv Oblast and ongoing heavy battles further east.

In a week, Russian troops managed to advance as far as 10 kilometers in the northern part of Kharkiv Oblast, according to Zelensky.

Washington has not changed its negative position on potential Ukrainian strikes with U.S.-supplied weapons on Russian territory even after Russia had launched its offensive in Kharkiv Oblast, the Pentagon said on May 16.

Zelensky commented on this statement during the meeting, saying that "there should be no bans because this is not about a Ukrainian offensive using Western weapons on Russian territory. This is about defense."

In an interview with AFP on May 17, Zelensky said that the Kharkiv Oblast offensive could be the first of several waves, and Russian forces may try for the regional capital of Kharkiv.

Read also: Zelensky: ‘Our partners fear that Russia will lose this war’

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