Ukrainian President Volodymir Zelensky affirmed he is willing to speak with his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, “but without an ultimatum,” in a television interview to be broadcast this Thursday night and from which Italian media publish a preview.
“I am willing to talk to Putin, but without an ultimatum,” he stressed in the interview granted to the “Porta a Porta” program of the Italian public channel, RAI, the first to the Italian media since the outbreak of the war by Russia, on February 24.
Zelensky insisted that negotiations with Moscow are complicated because “every day the Russians occupy villages, many people have left their homes, many have been killed by the Russians,” and the Ukrainian citizens are suffering “torture and murder.”
“This complicates things a lot, we want them to understand that our society is very peaceful; for eight years we have been trying to have a dialogue,” he argues.
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He justifies that the Russian army must leave the country as soon as possible and answer for what it has done, and rejects that “a way out for Russia” can be sought: “I know that Putin wanted to achieve a result but he has not achieved it. The proposition for us to hand over something so that the Russian president can save face is not fair. Ukraine is not going to save someone’s face by paying” with its territories.
In this sense, he added that at no time the question of “recognizing the independence of Crimea”, annexed by Russia in 2014, has been considered, and said that Crimea “has always been Ukrainian territory.”
“Ukraine wants peace, very normal things like respect for sovereignty, territorial integrity, people’s traditions, language. They may be trivial things but they have been violated by Russia and must be returned,” he notes, while pointing out that the Ukrainians must win the conflict because “they have no right to lose it after the tens of thousands of deaths” that have occurred.
Finally, he acknowledged that the Russian army is “four times bigger, its state is eight times bigger,” but that the Ukrainians are “ten times stronger as a people” because they are in their territory.
The interview of Zelensky took place after May 1, when the group Mediaset of the Berlusconi family aired one with the Russian Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov, the first for a European media since the invasion of Ukraine.
The interview generated great controversy and was even criticized by Italian Prime Minister, Mario Draghi, because Lavrov was able to make statements without being cross-examined by the journalist and even compared the Ukrainian president to Adolf Hitler for his “Hebrew origins,” amongst other things.
“For us, victory is getting our territory back, for them, it’s stealing something. We are not on equal footing, Russia is stronger, but the world is with us and we feel that little by little we are achieving it. Draghi is right, we can win because we are fighting for the truth and we are not alone,” he exposes.