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Zelenskiy Vows Drone Strikes on Russia Despite US Dissent

(Bloomberg) -- Ukraine will keep targeting Russian oil-refining facilities despite US discontent with its campaign, according to President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, who warned that Kyiv’s forces may be forced to retreat “step by step” without more military aid from allies.

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The drone attacks are in retaliation against Kremlin strikes on Ukraine’s energy grid and part of an effort to compel Moscow to stop them, the Washington Post’s David Ignatius wrote in a column, citing an interview with Zelenskiy done Thursday in Kyiv.

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Ukrainian forces have attacked more than a dozen refineries inside Russia with explosive-laden drones over the past month, slashing fuel production. But the strikes irked Kyiv’s allies in US who are concerned about rising domestic fuel prices in an election year, the Financial Times reported last week, citing people familiar with the issue.

“The reaction of the US was not positive on this,” Zelenskiy told the US newspaper. “We used our drones. Nobody can say to us you can’t.”

Zelenskiy once again urged accelerated Congressional approval of more than $60 billion in military assistance that’s been hung up for months. Otherwise, he said, Ukraine will be forced to step up its bombardment of Russian military objects and critical infrastructure, including airfields.

“We recognize that there are differing views in the House of Representatives on how to proceed, but the key is to keep the issue of aid to Ukraine as a unifying factor,” Zelenskiy said in a post on X, formerly Twitter, this week after speaking with US House Speaker Mike Johnson.

Read more: Ukraine Defends Russian Oil Strikes After Report of US Warning

Without new infusions of ammunition and air defense systems, Kyiv’s troops will be forced to retreat and President Vladimir Putin will look for more territorial gains, including toward major cities, Zelenskiy told the Washington Post.

“If you need 8,000 rounds a day to defend the front line, but you only have, for example, 2,000 rounds, you have to do less,” he said. “How? Of course, to go back. Make the front line shorter. If it breaks, the Russians could go to the big cities.”

Kremlin ground forces continue to probe for weak spots in Ukraine’s defenses in the nation’s east. They’re advanced in the Avdiivka region over the past week, Russia’s defense ministry said in an update cited by Interfax which also cited Iskander missile strikes in the Kharkiv region.

Kyiv’s military commander Oleksandr Syrskyi told the state news agency Ukrinform in an interview published on Friday that Russian forces recently had an advantage over Ukrainian artillery ammunition at a ratio of six to one.

Zelenskiy urged the US to provide long-range missiles to allow Ukraine to step up its attacks on targets such as airfields on the Russian-occupied Crimea peninsula. “ATACM-300s, that is the answer,” Zelenskiy said.

“If there is no US support, it means that we have no air defense, no Patriot missiles, no jammers for electronic warfare, no 155-millimeter artillery rounds,” he said. “It means we will go back, retreat, step by step, in small steps.”

Read more: Russia Crude Refining Drops to 10-Month Low on Drone Strikes

(Updates with Russian defence ministry update from ninth paragraph.)

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