President Zelensky spoke at the Yalta European Strategy (YES) conference in Kyiv and gave a wide-ranging interview with American journalist Farid Zakaria.

During the conversation on the opening day, Zelensky spoke openly of the counteroffensive, elections in Ukraine, President Putin and his family.

Here are seven highlights…

About the counterattack:

"It is important that our soldiers go forward. And the initiative is on our side. Yes, people want everything now, but this is not a movie. It will not be the case that we will restore territorial integrity in 30 minutes. 

“In the end, calm and peace in the state of Ukraine and the whole world will be when we fully restore our territory."

"Complex war, complex processes. Many things have slowed down. When some partners say ‘what's up with the counteroffensive’, my answer today is: Our steps are faster than the new sanctions packages."

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"We are moving forward, we will reach the end. Not the end of our state, but until the end of the life of our neighbor on our territory. And let that neighbor do what he wants on his territory, but without interfering with our independence."

"We are driving at a speed of 500 km/h. That is why such losses. The end of the war depends precisely on the unification of all the forces of this world."

About Putin and Russia:

"Putin has one step left – to threaten the world with nuclear weapons. He found this fragile point of unity of the Western partners - this is intimidation and the real fear that Putin may use nuclear weapons. 

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“He will do it. I'm sure this period is starting, this period will be strong in the winter. He will put pressure on the West and, above all, on the USA. Because the States will also be in a fragile time – electoral time. President Biden needs to have no doubt that the world is stronger than any weapon. We need to get through this time.

"Putin no longer has any arguments for aggression. He blew himself up as a person and a politician."

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"The question is who is the president of Russia today?”

About Prigozhin's death:

“There were no mourning days in Ukraine when the Prigozhin died. For us, this is one less terrorist.

“The fact that Putin killed Prigozhin – we have such information –  it also speaks of rationalism and that Putin has become politically weak.

“I do not believe that the strength of the Russians has completely weakened. I believe that their morale has fallen. 

“They disguised themselves as ‘Wagners,’ mercenaries, convicts and other terrorists, and threw them forward. I think they lost it. This is definitely a plus for us.”

About the American presidential election:

“The Russians are counting on the American elections. But this is not the first time.

“Putin is not used to having any political slogans during the elections. They have a day off during the election. He knows how everything will end before the election. But in other democracies of the world, it is different, and there is competition there.

“It is important that the American people support democracy, support Ukraine, our struggle for values. And then, no matter who it is and no matter what time it is, the leader of the state will always rest on the foundation - the public opinion of the US society."

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About the probability of elections in Ukraine:

“We are ready, we have no questions about it. There is a security issue. We have had US representatives publicly raise this issue. There are answers we have to give each other. We must do everything so that our soldiers, who are in the trenches, who are on the front line, vote. 

“That is, they defend people's rights, but they themselves will not be able to vote. It is impossible [on the front lines].

“I told US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken (no, he didn't push us anywhere) about the observers. We want the elections to be democratic. And how will the observers be in the trenches? If the world is ready to send us people, we are all for it. For us, the main thing is not to hold elections, but to have the elections recognized by the world. Because we are a democratic country, that's what we're fighting for.”

“The third point is our people abroad. There are millions of people, how will they vote? We have no infrastructure. That is, we must use two things: or the infrastructure of our embassies and consulates, as well as other countries, for example, Poland, Germany, Romania, where there are many of our citizens. 

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“Or we should do online elections abroad. Here we have a question for our partners: do you recognize these elections? Here I have a question for our parliament: will you vote for changes to the Electoral Code?

“Also, what to do with the issue of temporarily occupied territories. All Ukrainians in the occupied territories are very important. But as for the Ukrainians who came under occupation after February 24, what should be done with them? How will they show their will?

“There are many difficulties. How will people who are not here today choose their lives tomorrow in Ukraine?"

About China and the Global South:

“It is important for us to involve China in the Peace Formula. It is important for us to get the Global South on our side. It will all have an impact. And this will be a real, non-abstract, political isolation of Russia.”

About the family:

“I do not have any depression; I am an absolutely adequate person. I look in the mirror and realize – I am getting older, and my wife is getting more beautiful. 

“She is a good person, a powerful strong person. I am glad that today my family is together with Ukraine.”

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