On Thursday, Volodymyr Zelensky gave an interview to RBK-Ukraine, in which he spoke about the Kremlin's ultimatums, the situation on the Russian-Ukrainian border, negotiations with Western leaders and much more.
Speaking about the possible invasion of Russian troops, periodically reported by Western media with reference to intelligence, indicating the dates on which it will happen, the President of Ukraine said that for his country these reports “lead only to losses on all fronts.” Zelensky stressed that “with constant panic in society, it is physically impossible” to carry out economic policy and reforms.
At the same time, the head of Ukraine acknowledged that the risks of war still exist. In his opinion, they are in frequent discrepancy between what the Russian government says and does, as well as in the concentration of a large number of Russian troops in the immediate vicinity of the Ukrainian borders. “If there were much fewer of them there, no one would have raised these issues at all,” Zelensky stressed.
Responding to the questions about the Kremlin's demands - in particular, about the refusal of Ukraine's accession to NATO - Zelensky, on the one hand, said that “such a position is unacceptable”, and on the other admitted that not all members of the alliance want to see Ukraine in it, “no one will die” for it, and he himself does not need “soldiers with foreign flags on the territory” of the country now.
“We are not asking for that,” the Ukrainian president added. “Otherwise, the entire world would be destabilized. We don’t want to give any additional reason for the Russian Federation to say that we have bases here that they need to defend themselves against.”
Zelensky also noted that during negotiations with the leaders of Western countries, he talks only about financial and technical assistance to the Ukrainian armed forces and security guarantees for his country, which include a clause about a “strong, prosperous, funded and well-armed army”. Now, according to Zelensky, it is almost entirely financed from the budget of Ukraine.
“Our two hundred thousand armed professional people are all that exists in reality,” the President of Ukraine explained. “We can increase the army two or three times, but then, for example, we will not be able to build roads. This is a problem for us. Therefore, if our partners say that they protect common values with us, then let’s spend on them together. This is not altruism – it’s about the fact that tomorrow they will hurt you as well. They will go further, causing a migration crisis and so on.”
Zelensky also commented on the so-called Minsk agreements and their non-fulfillment of which Russia and Ukraine accuse each other. The President called the document “poorly drafted”, which put “Ukraine initially in a weaker, losing position.” Zelensky categorically stated that he would never enter into direct negotiations with the leaders of the so-called Donetsk and Luhansk “people’s republics”, calling them “militants”.
“It’s pointless. They don't decide anything,” Zelensky explained. “We know how the meeting of the Minsk subgroups takes place – who they consult, who they call back. They can say yes and then no. They ask permission. De facto and legally they are not a subject. If it is about the hostages, I understand and deal with it. But political issues can be solved only through Russia.”
In this regard, speaking about a theoretically possible meeting with Russian President Putin, which Zelensky had previously proposed, the head of Ukraine said that it would “definitely unblock relations” between the countries. “The meeting itself is a signal of what the parties want,” Zelensky believes. According to him, “presidents can sum up the meeting saying, “Nothing will be changed in the next 5-10 years, this is up to other generations to solve not us.” This will also be a good result for Ukraine, because the worst thing is to live in uncertainty.”