Zelensky: NATO must choose whether we are really allies

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky says NATO must choose whether it is truly Ukraine's ally by speeding up arms deliveries to help its struggling forces.

"Our skies must become safe again," Zelensky said during a video conference with NATO defense ministers.

"This depends entirely on your choice. The choice of whether life is really equally valuable anywhere. The choice of whether you treat all partners equally. The choice of whether we really are allies," he said.

Presenting a grim picture of his forces' ability to withstand Russian attacks on the ground and from the air, Zelensky said Ukraine could not defend itself without Western support.

"It is obvious that now, while Russia has air superiority and can rely on its drone and missile terror, our capabilities on the ground are unfortunately limited," he said.

Zelensky called Saturday's vote in the U.S. House of Representatives on whether to unlock a long-delayed $61 billion military aid package a "vital decision."

The aid has been delayed since last year as a result of political infighting in the Republican Party.

After another week of Russian airstrikes that killed and wounded dozens of people across the country, the Ukrainian leader said Kiev needs more air defense systems to protect Ukrainian cities and save lives.

"In order to defend ourselves, we need seven more 'Peitrits' or similar air defence systems - and that's a minimum number. They can save many lives and really change the situation," Zelensky said at a NATO-Ukraine Council meeting.

He also stressed the urgency of getting much-needed weapons.

"We cannot wait for decisions to be made this year," he said.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said the allies agreed to provide Ukraine with more air defense funds.

"NATO has mapped existing capabilities in the alliance and there are systems that can be provided to Ukraine. So I expect new announcements on air defense capabilities for Ukraine soon." / BGNES