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Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky speaks during a joint press conference with European Commission President following their talks in Kyiv on Nov. 4, 2023, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine.ANATOLII STEPANOV/AFP/Getty Images

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky denied on Saturday that the war with Russia had reached a “stalemate,” and said more work with allies was needed to strengthen air defences.

His comments came days after Ukraine’s Commander-in-chief, General Valery Zaluzhnyi, said in an article the conflict was moving toward a new stage of static and attritional fighting, a phase that could allow Moscow to rebuild its military power.

“Today time has passed and people are tired. But this is not a stalemate,” Zelensky said during a news conference with visiting European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen. “Russia controls the skies. We care about our military.”

Zelensky acknowledged there had been difficulties in the war, now in its 21st month, and that Kyiv had yet to achieve any major successes in its counteroffensive.

But he said Ukrainian troops had no other alternative but to keep fighting and required more support from Western allies, especially with air defences. Ukrainian forces have made slow progress through vast Russian minefields in a counteroffensive that began in the east and south in early June, but Russia has hit back hard in the east. Russian troops were mounting numerous attacks near Avdiivka, Lyman and Mariinka in the eastern Donetsk region, the Ukrainian military said in its daily update.

Ukrainian forces were continuing their advance in the southeast towards the Sea of Azov, the report added.

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