IRYNA BALACHUK — SATURDAY, 21 MAY 2022, 11:12 AM
President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said that today Ukraine is being defended in the war by 700,000 military personnel.
Source: Zelenskyy in an interview for Ukrainian journalists
Quote from the president: "As of today it is 700,000 – here you can see the result of the work of 700,000 people who are fighting. 700,000. This is at a time of war."
Source: Zelenskyy added that this number of people and equipment is scattered throughout the country.
According to the president, a country like Ukraine needs an army of not 250,000 or 260,000 (and there were 120,000 combat troops there, Zelensky said), but a significantly larger one. Therefore, at the beginning of 2022, he signed a decree on increasing the armed forces by 100,000 for the following year.
At the same time, the president believes that even these plus 100,000 would not have been able to stop a full-scale attack by Russia.
Quote from Zelenskyy: "From the point of view of the forces that the Russian Federation has applied, using absolutely everything, using even reserves, using this kind of "quiet mobilisation" ("quiet" because mobilisation is when there is a war, and they could not declare war on us, they called it a "special operation"). They redeployed troops, and there was an increase in both Crimea and Belarus – on different fronts. This is a really large volume. I don’t think any European country today could cope with this sort of volume."
Details: At the same time, the president reminded us that the NATO countries have appropriate weapons, they have Patriot (a surface-to-air missile system), they have serious air defence systems that are capable of protecting the sky from the initial strikes that were inflicted on Ukraine in the early days.
Zelenskyy believes that Ukraine was well prepared for war – there were many things that Russia did not know about - and this preparation meant that Ukraine was not taken over within the first few days, as intelligence and military analysts had predicted.
The president reminded us that Ukraine has been living in a state of war for a long time, and it was not just the war in Donbas: there were cyber attacks, there were economic and financial measures, blocking and reducing the volume of energy supplies, a shortage of petrol, and so on. Therefore, the fact that Russia would launch a full-scale offensive had been known since October, and maybe even since September.
But, despite this understanding and data from various intelligence agencies, in fact, no one knew what kind of war it would be, because "the devil is in the detail": will you be fighting against forces and equipment that are on the territory of Belarus, or those that cross the territory of Belarus and enter Ukraine; will they leave Belarus in tanks, or will missiles be launched from Belarus; will you be fighting with one country or, in fact, two.