Kiev has lost over 16,000 heavy weapons in six months, according to the Russian Defense Ministry FILE PHOTO: Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky during an interview with Associated Press. © AP Photo / Efrem Lukatsky

The US and other Western nations should fund Ukraine’s plan to create a self-sufficient military, if necessary on credit, President Vladimir Zelensky has suggested.

Speaking to the Associated Press in an interview published on Friday, the Ukrainian leader suggested that foreign countries could offer favorable loans and contracts that would help Kiev achieve its goal of bolstering domestic arms production.

Also on Friday, Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu estimated that in the past six months Kiev had lost over 125,000 troops and 16,000 pieces of heavy equipment. Total military mobilization in Ukraine and the flood of donated Western arms “did not change the battlefield situation” and simply increased the cost of the conflict for Ukraine, he said.

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Zelensky said he made an appeal for funding to US officials when he visited Washington in September. He sees his proposal as “the way out” of the conflict, according to AP, and claimed that nothing terrifies Russia more than a militarily self-sufficient Ukraine.

Ukraine’s government spending is heavily dependent on Western aid and loans from Western-controlled financial institutions, such as the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. The latter approved a $1.2 billion loan for Ukraine this week, guaranteed by Japan.

Zelensky stressed his nation’s dire financial state in an interview with NBC in early November. He pleaded: “If you can’t support us financially, please give us a loan and we’ll pay you back.”

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Kiev has been pushing for Western assistance in developing its domestic arms production amid a shortfall of direct weapons supplies. Foreign Minister Dmitry Kuleba told journalists on Wednesday, that out of 1 million artillery shells pledged to his country by the EU this year, only some 300,000 had arrived so far.

Some Western defense contractors, such as Germany’s Rheinmetall, have announced plans to open workshops in Ukraine. Moscow has warned that all arms plants hosted by its neighbor are legitimate targets for Russian forces.

Speaking to AP, Zelensky expressed concern that additional support would be more difficult to secure next year, as election campaigning in the US and the Israel-Hamas war in the Middle East drain Western attention and resources.

“You see, attention equals help. No attention will mean no help. We fight for every bit of attention,” he said. (RT)