Zelenskyy: Pause in war would only help Russia re-arm

Estonia's Prime Minister Kaja Kallas meets Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy at Stenbock House, Tallinn, Estonia, Jan 11, 2024. [AP Photo]

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Thursday that a pause in Russia’s war against Ukraine would only benefit Russia by allowing it to boost its supply of munitions and “run us over.”

“A pause on the battlefield on the territory of Ukraine is not a pause in war. It is not the end of war,” Zelenskyy said during a visit to Estonia.

“It doesn’t lead to political dialogue with the Russian Federation or with someone else. This pause will only benefit the Russian Federation,” he said.

Zelenskyy was in Estonia as part of a regional tour that included a stop in Lithuania and another planned in Latvia.

The Ukrainian leader said Wednesday in Vilnius that his country’s forces have shown the world that Russia’s military can be stopped but said the Kyiv government badly needs Western allies to send it more air defense systems to shoot down an increased barrage of incoming Russian drones and missiles.

He acknowledged, however, that the stockpiles are low in countries that could assist Ukraine.

“Warehouses are empty,” Zelenskyy said. “And there are many challenges to world defense.”

As the war nears its two-year mark, Ukraine has said it is hoping to ramp up development of its domestic defense industry and work on joint projects with foreign governments to manufacture more ammunition and weapons.

Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia are among Ukraine's staunchest political, financial and military supporters, and some in the Baltics worry that they could be Moscow's next target.

The three countries were seized and annexed by Josef Stalin during World War II before regaining independence with the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991. They joined NATO in 2004, placing themselves under the military protection of the U.S. and its Western allies.

"Democratic countries have done a lot to help Ukraine, but we need to do more together so that Ukraine wins and the aggressor loses," Estonian President Alar Karis said in a statement.

"Then there is the hope that this will remain the last military aggression in Europe, where someone wants to dictate to their neighbor with missiles, drones and cannons what political choices can be made," he said.

As the Ukraine-Russia war drags on, Western military supplies to Ukraine have tailed off. In the United States, President Joe Biden’s request for more Ukraine aid is stalled in Congress, while Europe's pledge in March to provide 1 million artillery shells within 12 months has fallen short, with only about 300,000 delivered so far.