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Mobilization, government reduction, 1 million drones: Zelenskyy's press conference highlights

Mobilization, government reduction, 1 million drones: Zelenskyy's press conference highlights Photo: President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelenskyy (Vitalii Nosach, RBC-Ukraine)

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy held a press conference today, December 19, to discuss the outcomes of the current year.

Below are the key statements made by the head of state during the conference.

Several new Patriot systems will be protecting Ukraine this winter

"This winter is different; it also comes with challenges, unfortunately, with losses, but still fewer. We are getting stronger every month. I had a serious trip with the team. Several, I won't specify the number, several new Patriot systems will be protecting our country this winter," he added, without disclosing the exact quantity until they are officially in service.

Later, he also announced that Ukraine expects one Patriot system from German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.

Regarding the request for mobilization of 450-500 thousand people

Zelenskyy stated that the General Staff and the head of the Armed Forces submitted the request. However, he emphasized the need for arguments, as it involves additional expenses and logistical considerations.

"The Chief Commander and the General Staff addressed the mobilization at the Staff meeting level. This is a sensitive issue. They addressed the defense of our state and potential counteroffensive actions regarding the deficit. Their view was, they proposed mobilizing an additional 450-500 thousand people. It is a serious figure, and I said that I need more arguments because it is a matter of people, justice, defense capability, and finances," Zelenskyy explained.

In terms of finances, mobilization in this format would cost Ukraine an additional 500 billion hryvnias, he added.

The United States will not betray Ukraine

"Regarding financial assistance, we are working hard on it. I am sure that the U.S. will not let us down, and what we agreed upon in the U.S. will be fully implemented," said the president.

Will the war end in 2024?

In response to RBC-Ukraine's question about whether the war with Russia will end in 2024, President Zelenskyy stated that no one knows.

"I think no one knows the answer. Even those respectable people, commanders, ours or Western ones. When they say that the war will last for many years, they don't know. These are opinions. Opinions often differ from reality," said Zelenskyy.

The head of the state mentioned that long-term assistance would still be available if there are risks. As of now, there is certainty: Belgium - 1.7 billion, Denmark - 4.2 billion, South Korea - 2.3 billion, Latvia, Lithuania, and the Netherlands - hundreds of millions, Norway - 7.5 billion, France - 2 billion, Germany - 8 billion, Sweden - over 0.5 billion, and there will be multibillion-dollar aid from Japan.

"This is a powerful foundation if we face risks. We will calculate the corresponding amounts... Very large sums involve both military aid," he noted.

About scandals with deputies

"Holding elections during a war is challenging. There is a percentage of MPs who still work. If we are ready for such changes in the Verkhovna Rada, we need to change laws and conduct elections. We have adopted European laws that pave the way for 50 billion in aid. There are those who are not a moral example," the president said.

However, he pointed out the following: he does not believe that a deputy who parties is any different from a businessman launching fireworks on their birthday.

"All public figures should be an example, unfortunately, that's not the case. What can I do? I can't dissolve them because then there will be elections, and elections cannot be held during a war," added Zelenskyy.

About Orban

Zelenskyy stated that he has never communicated with the Prime Minister of Hungary, Viktor Orban, regarding peaceful negotiations with Russia. He also revealed that he had proposed an official meeting with Orban, but the Hungarian Prime Minister was unable to provide any response.

"Sometimes his policies are not very friendly towards us. I told him about it," said Zelenskyy.

"I want to shrink this government"

The head of state expressed his desire to downsize the government, as he doesn't have "the funds to maintain it". He also explained that he cannot remove anyone from his team.

"I cannot change them; we will become weaker. There will be less PPP (Public-Private Partnership), less assistance. I cannot let it," Zelenskyy believes.

War in the Middle East and the distraction from Ukraine

The president acknowledged the war in the Middle East. He also stated that he was ready to go to Israel after the invasion by HAMAS.

"It is a distraction, I talked about it, it is not new information for you. It's a distraction of the world's attention, a distraction from consolidating around Ukraine. The defocusing of support for Ukraine across various information platforms, especially in the international information field, adversely affects our assistance," said Zelenskyy.

About Trump

The head of state expressed the opinion that Donald Trump's policy would be different if he returned to power in the United States.

"He is a different person if he becomes the president of the United States, but it is not for us to choose. We must soberly look at how a leader influences society. But if Trump's policy is very economical, it will have a significant impact on the course of the war in Ukraine. And the whole world may react to it - certainly not positively," said the President of Ukraine.

On relations with Poland: "I am not some wimp"

"When Ukrainians saw the conflict between leaders (of Poland and Ukraine - ed.), they started defending Poland. We lost hundreds of millions of dollars; we lost part of the harvest; we were losing it every day. And we started losing political relations. I am not some wimp; I am defending the interests of Ukraine," stated Zelenskyy.

The president added that Ukrainians defend the independence of Poland with their lives.

The strategy of war will not change - it's the borders of 1991

"The strategy for the defense of Ukraine cannot be changed according to our Constitution. Tactics can change after considering the results of the counteroffensive; this will be clear by the end of 2023," said Zelenskyy.

He also noted, "Life has changed so much that I now need a translator from Russian."

The Ukrainian leader also commented on the question of security guarantees, stating that the process is proceeding more slowly than he anticipated.

About Relations with Zaluzhny

"Relations with Zaluzhny are functional. He is responsible for the results on the battlefield as the Commander-in-Chief. I will not help anyone escalate the conflict," stated Zelenskyy.

He emphasized his intention to continue working with the Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, Valerii Zaluzhny.

"I am waiting for the decision on mobilization, waiting for the results on the battlefield, waiting for decisions on assistance to fighters on the front. There is a strategy - I am waiting for results and details," added the president.

"1 warrior is equivalent to 6 taxpayers"

The president particularly emphasized that he awaits details regarding mobilization since he wants to advocate for civilians, as "1 military person is 'supported' by 6 civilians."

"One warrior corresponds to 6 people in civilian life who pay taxes. When we talk about mobilization, multiply the necessary 500,000 mobilized by 6 taxpayers. And understand how we can find an additional 3 million taxpayers starting from January," explained the president.

Complications in the process of prisoner exchange

"The process of exchange has become more complicated. This track is working, but it has slowed down due to reasons from the side of the Russian Federation. The track will open; now they are working on a fairly decent number of our guys to bring them back," emphasized the head of state.

He also added that the return of Crimeans has been worked on by the Ukrainian side with the President of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, but so far, it has been unsuccessful.

About NATO accession

Zelenskyy emphasized that Ukraine's full-fledged accession to NATO is the "most powerful option" for ensuring the security of the country.

"But we are not invited to NATO," the president said.

The head of state emphasized that Ukraine has not received any proposals from official partners for the so-called "partial accession" of Ukraine to the Alliance. However, he has heard discussions of these ideas and is extremely skeptical about them.

"And signals regarding partial participation, frankly speaking, are just nonsense. No offense to those who say such things," added the president.

Possibility of talks with Russia and the "peace formula"

"I don't see any requests from Russia; in rhetoric, I see only arrogance and killing," said Zelenskyy.

He noted that the only platform is the "peace formula."

Zelenskyy also announced meetings in the "peace formula" format at the World Economic Forum in Davos and the summit at the level of world leaders.

President will not sign the law on the mobilization of women

Zelenskyy stated that he would not support the draft law regarding the possible mobilization of women: "Women - no, I won't sign it."

As for the mobilization of younger individuals (25 years old), provided that all arguments regarding the necessity are presented, the president will agree with this.

"As for 25 years old - If all arguments are presented, and I see that it is necessary, then I will agree with it," added the head of state.

Goals on the front in 2024

"I cannot tell you about the goals. We had difficulties in the south because everyone talked about our plans, everyone considered the details... Well, it doesn't work out that way with the Russian Federation, which has more weapons. I cannot tell you any details about our counteroffensive and defensive actions next year," explained the president.

Ukraine will produce 1 million drones next year

The president promised the production of one million domestically produced drones and an increase in the production of artillery.

"Many different issues, we need to work on this," he said.

About the opening of Boryspil airport

"Boryspil is like the Black Sea; the opening of Boryspil will be a victory for Ukrainian air defense, it will speak to the fact that Ukraine is winning, and we are putting this question to our colleagues," reassured Zelenskyy.

The reduction of assistance to internally displaced persons will not happen

"As for an increase, I cannot confirm it now due to challenges related to the increase in the defense budget. I cannot say now; everything will be calculated precisely by the end of the year. In the new year, we will have a full understanding," Zelenskyy noted.

About the possibility of dual citizenship

The president believes that many Ukrainians will return to Ukraine when air defense is strengthened and assistance to our people in the EU and the U.S. is reduced. In connection with this, Zelenskyy called on those who have emigrated, especially women and children, "not to rush to renounce Ukrainian citizenship."

The president also expressed the belief that Ukraine should reconsider the issue of dual citizenship so that as many Ukrainians as possible who left the country due to the war can return home.

"Dual citizenship is normal. There are indeed 60 million Ukrainians in the world, and not everyone necessarily has to live in Ukraine," the president believes.

About Bezuhla

"As for any comments on Facebook, I don't deal with that; I don't have time for unnecessary dialogues... And as for Mariana (Bezuhla - ed.), there are a few more people, very difficult. They like to comment and like on Facebook... It seems to me that we all need to give the state constant results, and as for selfies, we'll have time," Zelenskyy said.

Previous conferences held by President Zelenskyy

It's worth recalling that prior to this, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy met with representatives of the media on June 6. On this day, Ukraine observes Journalist Day. The event lasted only an hour and a half and took place at the Mariinsky Palace around a round table. Journalists were exclusively gathered from Ukrainian publications, totaling 18 representatives.

Before that, Zelenskyy held a major press conference on the anniversary of Russia's invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2023. The president answered questions in a live broadcast for about 2.5 hours, and approximately 320 journalists from 170 publications, including foreign media, were accredited for the event.

It is noteworthy that before the onset of the full-scale Russian invasion, the head of state conducted one of the record-breaking conferences, lasting for 14 hours.