Ukraine needs more air defense systems after deadly attack on Kharkiv, adviser tells WTOP

WTOP National Security Correspondent JJ Green speaks with Yuriy Sak on May 27, 2024.

As Russia presses forward with its offensive in northeastern Ukraine with an attack that has killed 18 so far, Ukraine’s President Zelenskyy has secured from Spain a pledge of additional air defense missiles to help fight the approximately 3,000 bombs he says Russia is launching at Ukraine each month.

Yuriy Sak, adviser to Ukraine’s minister of strategic industries, joined WTOP’s Anne Kramer, Kyle Cooper and J.J. Green to discuss the most recent attack in Kharkiv and what’s the latest in the more than two-year war.

Listen to the interview or read the full transcript below.

Yuriy Sak joins WTOP to discuss the latest attack on Kharkiv in Ukraine.

J.J. Green: Yuriy, I’m wondering if you could just tell us about this most recent attack that took place last night in Kharkiv. That’s Ukraine’s second largest city. What’s the latest on that?

Yuriy Sak: J.J., well, first of all, thank you very much. It’s an honor to be here again in the studio. And, actually, when that attack happened, I was already in the U.S. because as you can imagine, it takes a long time now to travel from Ukraine anywhere, actually. And I saw in the U.S., I saw … people with families, you know, going to supermarkets buying food, buying other things. And this is exactly what happened in Kharkiv, the second largest Ukrainian city. On a weekend, families go to this big large supermarket in the middle of Kharkiv. You know, to renovate their house, to buy foods. And these genocidal terrorists, these, you know, animals, they strike it with an S300 missile.

And we have all seen, the whole country saw and was shocked to our foundation, with the footage from the CCTV cameras, because you can actually see how people, one moment, they’re walking, the next moment, you cannot see nothing, because it’s rubble, dust, and flames from the explosion. So, this is why we keep saying on a daily basis to our partners, we need more air defense systems because civilians continue to die with more than two years of this war, and is still, you know, we’re still witnessing these terrorist attacks on a daily basis.

Anne Kramer: Yuriy, I want to ask you about, you kind of just touched on it a little bit, but with the aid package that took so long to get through Congress to get aid to Ukraine, I’m wondering if you can let our listeners in and give them some perspective. There’s a lot of moms, a lot of dads driving their kids around right now, a lot of people out celebrating what Memorial Day means to us and our fallen troops here on our country on this day. But why should they personally care about what is happening in Ukraine?

Yuriy Sak: I was here in Washington, D.C., last year, and I went to the Arlington Memorial Cemetery. And I saw with my own eyes, that this country, like no other, knows the value of fighting for freedom, for the values. And this is exactly why I think it’s not just our fight. It’s our common fight in a way that we stand for freedom right now, that Kiev and Ukraine is the center of the free world. And it is in the national interest of this country to continue to support Ukraine, because, God forbid, if things don’t go to plan, if we follow, the, you know, the next countries like the Baltic states, they will be attacked. And then the U.S. troops will have to again, set their foot on the ground and defend because of the NATO agreement. They will have to go and fight this war. We still, as a coalition of the three nations, we still have an opportunity to stop this war where it is now in Ukraine. Let’s not miss it.

Kyle Cooper: Yuriy, you described that horrific attack just a few minutes ago. And all the families and the people that were there. What is the morale like of the Ukrainian people? We see President Zelenskyy, his morale seems to be good. He’s hanging in there. What are people saying? It’s been a long, long war.

Yuriy Sak: We are very, very, very angry at these terrorists and every attack, which they think will break our will, only makes us stronger and more determined. Because right now, I don’t think you will find anyone in Ukraine who doesn’t have either a close relative, a friend or a classmate, who is either fighting the war or has been wounded or has been killed. So, we are a nation at war. We know that it’s about our survival, we will continue. And we hope that our partners and our strategic allies like the United States of America will continue to stand with us. And I would like to use this opportunity to thank every American who is now listening to your program in the car, to all the children. There will come a day you will all be proud of the fact that you stood with us with a nation at war in these difficult times. And we will never, never forget. I’m telling you this on your Memorial Day.


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