Address by Minister of Defense of Ukraine Oleksii Reznikov

2022-05-13 09:15:00 | ID: 67512

«Dear Ukrainians!

Many of our fellow citizens, consciously or subconsciously, perceived the 9-th of May as a certain Rubicon. After all, the kremlin has repeatedly demonstrated its thirst for perverse symbolism.

The information space was full of expectations that something "special" would happen before or directly on that day. Something that would determine the course of war or give a clue as to when it would finish.

That day has passed. Many people are now somewhat confused and are asking: what's next? What to expect? How to plan my life?

First, I want to elaborate on what has happened in the last 78 days of the war that started over 8 years ago.

What happened on the battlefield?

After russia's full-scale invasion on February 24, moscow planned that Ukraine would surrender in a few days. Many in the West were of the same opinion. The kremlin hoped to establish a new "russian" rule on our land in a couple of weeks.

Our defenders, the whole Ukrainian nation repelled the invaders and thwarted these plans.

Then, a new so-called period "until May 9" had started. Having suffered huge losses and a defeat near Kyiv, being unable to achieve any strategic goal, the Russian troops changed their tactics.

They fled from Zhytomyr, Kyiv, Chernihiv, and Sumy regions and set new goals to capture the south and east of Ukraine. But again, this did not happen. Thanks to the mass heroism of our soldiers, the unity of Ukrainians and international support Ukraine has endured.

The defenders of Mariupol – our marines, national guard, in particular from the "Azov" regiment, Mariupol territorial defence battalion, border guards, policemen, intelligence, soldiers of the Security Service bought us time and saved many lives.

The defence forces in the Joint Forces Operation area, as well as in Kharkiv, Zaporizhzhia, Kherson and Mykolaiv Oblasts have resisted the onslaught of the enemy. Izum, Popasna, Rubizhne, Avdiivka, Mariinka and others are true cities of Heroes and places of Ukraine's military glory. The resistance movement in Melitopol, Kherson and other communities is an important contribution to our common victory.

Thus, by May 9 russia had suffered a strategic defeat: it had failed to destroy the Ukrainian State by military intervention and organize a change of power in favor of russian puppets. We forced russia to reduce the scale of its objectives to the operational and tactical level.

Given that, we are entering a new, long phase of the war. To win it, we must plan resources carefully, avoid mistakes and project our strength in such a way that the enemy ultimately breaks.

What happened on the international level?

It is obvious to everyone that russia considerably surpasses Ukraine in terms of resources. However, after February 24 we were not preparing to defend our country for a week, month or until May 9. We had complete confidence in our Armed Forces and understood that the confrontation would take long – till our complete victory.

We also realized that the existing stockpiles of Soviet-made weapons would quickly deplete during a high-intensity warfare. Therefore, work has been conducted on all levels to change the philosophy of the Western partners' support for Ukraine.

Every day during face-to-face meetings with defence ministers of partner countries, I had to systematically explain that Ukraine needs heavy weapons – aviation, artillery, tanks, and armored vehicles – of Western standards and calibers used by NATO countries.

The main argument was that Ukraine is defending the whole Europe, and the enhancement of our defence is the strengthening of NATO's eastern flank. That is why ensuring the de facto mutual compatibility of the Alliance armies with the Ukrainian defense forces is in line with common interests.

Eventually, a tectonic shift took place. Within a month, Ukraine has completed a path of integration in the sphere of defense that it was not able to overcome for 30 years.

We are already receiving heavy weaponry from our partners. In particular, American 155-mm M777 howitzers are already working at the front lines. Three months ago, it was considered impossible.

I want to thank my friend and a great friend of Ukraine, the UK Secretary of State for Defence Ben Wallace, who has worked very hard to increase the assistance for our country. On his initiative, a large donor conference was convened in late March. This conference became a hallmark for forming a common position of European partners and accelerating the de facto security integration with Ukraine.

Thanks to the leadership of our American partners and friends, and personally of US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin III, a fundamental transition took place. It happened on April 26 during a historic meeting of defense agencies' leaders of over 40 countries at the Ramstein American base in Germany. The free world which was shocked by the atrocities of the russian invaders on our land set a new common goal: not to stop, but to defeat the kremlin.

This fully corresponds with our aspirations, because our goal is to restore our sovereignty and territorial integrity within the internationally recognized borders.

Recently a bill on lend-lease was adopted in the United States. This is the exact form of assistance that helped defeat Hitler in World War II. US President Joe Biden symbolically signed it on May 9. Another law on increasing support for Ukraine is being discussed.

Political decisions are being adopted in various countries and at the EU level. These decisions will increase the support for Ukraine not only in the defense sphere, but also in economic, social, and humanitarian areas. I also want to thank everyone who is close to Ukraine in this time of hardship. Especially our Polish, Lithuanian, Latvian and Estonian friends whose contribution is difficult to overestimate.

Thus, a strategic defeat on the international level piled up on russia's strategic defeat on the battlefield. If we consider that the civilized world is tightening the economic sanctions, while Finland and Sweden are preparing to apply for NATO membership, the international context for the kremlin is systematically getting worse. The world got the chance to overcome dictatorship which constitutes a global threat.

All this became possible thanks to the courage, dedication, and great sacrifice of the Ukrainian people.

What happened in the Ukrainian defence sector?

The escalation provoked a tremendous increase in our defense needs. Ukraine was not completely prepared for this. No country in such circumstances (thousands of kilometers of common border and the aggressor's multiple advantage in resources) could be fully prepared.

However, thanks to the preparatory measures and mobilization of the Ukrainian people, the actions of the government that maintained control over the country, a defence of our state was organized.

During the initial stages, volunteers were extremely helpful. Due to their mobility, they quickly resolved highly pressing issues. The deployment of the state mechanism takes a lot of formalities, even for a country at war. And not only in the warring Ukraine.

In the end, the processes that will ensure the increase of Ukraine's defense potential have been launched. This applies to both procurement and production of defense items. We are focusing on the need to provide for 1 million people who will be facing the enemy.

For example, if we start counting from February 24, at the end of April out of the total number of bulletproof vests provided to our defence forces 50% were provided by the Ministry of Defence and 50% as various forms of charitable aid from citizens, volunteers, and civic organizations. As of May 13, this proportion is already 57% to 43%. And we are increasing the supply volume every day.

As part of the direction set by the government, we are making an emphasis on stimulating Ukrainian manufacturers. Those our manufacturers who can ensure the required quality of body vests, helmets, uniforms, shoes etc. are already loaded with orders until the end of this year and have concrete supply schedules.

We are also actively seeking international technical assistance. For instance, the Ministry of Defence found a consignment of bulletproof vests in Turkey, which were paid for by the Government of Japan to help our country. Ministry of Defense specialists have worked out the full production cycle and logistics, and our soldiers received protection.

Today we are talking to our partners not only about import, but also about repairing our equipment and establishing joint production chains.

We are investing in modern Ukrainian weapons. We are rebuilding all processes to increase our capabilities. Our main priority is to ensure the stability and frequency of deliveries, despite the enemy's incessant opposition.

For example, we are now already ensuring that every day we have a reserve of armor for no less than 2 brigades. And these capacities will further grow.

To sum up, a strategic breakthrough in favor of Ukraine is taking place. This process will take some time. In the long run, these trends will make russia's defeat inevitable.

At the same time, I want to emphasize on the following.

Extremely tough weeks are ahead. No one can say for sure how many of them there will be.

During this period, we will continue defending from the enraged aggressor mainly on our own.

Over 1.5 thousand Ukrainian soldiers are already training or will start training in the next couple of days to master equipment from our partners and then return as instructors. Some of them, like artillerymen, will go straight into battle.

Time will pass until heavy weaponry will balance the scales and ensure a breakthrough in favor of Ukraine. One should understand that its current presence is limited.

The President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky personally, our Prime-Minister Denys Shmyhal, the entire team of the President's Office led by Andriy Yermak, our diplomats led by Dmytro Kuleba, and many other people are working around the clock to speed up and increase the aid to Ukraine. There are significant breakthroughs, but there are also difficulties.

Time passes unspeakably slowly. It is because we all remember that our men and women at the front along the Seversky Donets, in Azovstal and in captivity of occupiers sacrifice their lives for Ukraine. We remember that our citizens in temporary occupied territories are in danger. People are kidnapped, tortured, and killed. That is why we are doing everything possible and impossible to speed up the liberation of our land.

The growing pressure of sanctions against russia and the increase of foreign aid to Ukraine in the next few months should create conditions under which the kremlin will completely lose chances for any success. Then a new window of opportunity for Ukraine should appear.

In this extremely difficult period, we need unity, cohesion, will and patience.

Ukraine will be victorious!

Glory to Ukraine!»