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'Everyone is used to Ukrainians dying': Key points from Zelenskyy's interview about front, West and peace

'Everyone is used to Ukrainians dying': Key points from Zelenskyy's interview about front, West and peace President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy (Vitalii Nosach, RBC-Ukraine)
Author: Maria Kholina

On May 20, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy gave an interview to Reuters, where he addressed the delay in decisions regarding aid from Western partners, the frontline situation, Russia's offensive in the Kharkiv region, and strikes on the aggressor country's territory.

Below are key statements and main quotes from Zelenskyy's interview with Reuters.

On frontline situation

"Currently the situation at the front is one of the most difficult because a new... Russian offensive has begun in the direction of Kharkiv. A very powerful wave (of fighting) is going on in Donbas... No one even notices that there are actually more battles in the east of the country, specifically in the Donbas direction: Kurakhove, Pokrovsk, Chasiv Yar," the president said.

On Russia's offensive in Kharkiv

"Today the situation is under control. A week ago it was more difficult," Zelenskyy said.

On possibility of West downing Russian missiles over NATO countries

"When missiles are flying, Polish planes are sent up, but they don’t shoot down Russian missiles. Can they do this? I’m sure that yes. Is this an attack by NATO countries, involvement? No," the president said.

On West fearing escalation with Russia

"It's a question of will. But everyone says a word that sounds the same in every language: Everyone is scared of escalation. Everyone has gotten used to the fact that Ukrainians are dying – that’s not escalation for people," the head of state said.

On Ukrainian strikes on Russia

"We have started to use what is ours on the energy system of the Russian Federation, because they leave us without energy, so I believe this is very fair," Zelenskyy said.

"We have never used Western weapons on Russian territory because we don't have acceptance for that. We can't put the whole volume of weapons at risk," the president stressed.

"We are negotiating with partners so that we can use their weapons against buildups of Russian equipment on the border and even (on) their territory.. So far, there is nothing positive (in this matter - ed.)," Zelenskyy said.

On defense assistance from West

"Every decision to which we, then later everyone together, comes to is late by around one year... But it is what it is: one big step forward, but before that two steps back. So we need to change the paradigm a little bit," the president said.

"When we're quick, they fall behind. And then there's a gap - six, eight months of unpassed (aid) packages, and then two-three months of supplies - and a year goes by. We would like not to lose the advantage," the head of state added.

"And I think we need to walk this path to the end, preferably a victorious one. Even though today people look somewhat sceptically at the word 'victory'. I understand it is difficult, because it is long," Zelenskyy said.

On F-16s for Ukraine

"The Russians are using 300 planes on the territory of Ukraine. We need at least 120, 130 (F-16) planes to resist in the sky. Can you provide this right now? Alright, going back to the planes you have on the territory of neighboring NATO countries: lift them into the air, shoot down targets, protect the civilian population. Can they do this? I’m sure that yes. Is this an attack by NATO countries, involvement? No," the head of state explained.

On peace initiatives

"Why is Russia not involved? Because they block everything, they will sabotage everything, they will not rest until they show this or that plan of ending the war, which will be an ultimatum," Zelenskyy said.

"Involving all countries is not just about politics, it's about political influence and pressure on them (Russia)," the president added.

On Ukrainian independence

"The question is not only of the 1991 borders, it's a question of (our) independence in the borders of 1991. This independence has to be in (people's) minds, as the direction," Zelenskyy said.

On US presidential election

"I wouldn’t say that today I see maximal risks. I don’t believe that the Republicans are against support for Ukraine, but some messages that are coming from their side raise concerns," Zelenskyy said.

Recently, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy mentioned in an interview with AFP that Ukraine has prospects for a new counteroffensive, but first, it is necessary to stabilize the front and stop Russia's advance.

Earlier, the head of state also expressed the opinion that the first F-16s Ukraine will receive in 2024 will not play a key role on the front.