President Zelensky has insisted he is “not ready” for negotiations with Russia, in an interview that saw the visibly exasperated Ukrainian president swear on US TV.
The Ukrainian president was commenting on reports that US and European officials had spoken with his government about negotiations to end the war, and after Valery Zaluzhny, the head of Ukraine's Armed Forces, admitted there was “stalemate” on the front lines.
Speaking on Sunday evening to NBC's Meet the Press, Zelensky said: “(The United States) know that I am not ready to speak with the terrorists, because their word is nothing.
“For today, I don't have any relations with the Russians, and they know my position,” he said, adding: “They have to go out from our territory, only after that, the world can switch on diplomacy.”
WATCH: @NBCNews reports that U.S. and European officials have quietly begun talks around Russia-Ukraine peace negotiations, but Zelenskyy says he is not ready to begin that dialogue with Putin.@ZelenskyyUa: "We can’t trust terrorists because terrorists always come back." pic.twitter.com/aHQXqcQtxJ— Meet the Press (@MeetThePress) November 5, 2023
At the end of the interview, the host asked Zelensky if he’d like to share an insight into his motivation and if he ever feels “defeated.”
He replied: “I have a lot of power. But even feeling strong and having a lot of energy doesn’t mean we want to fight all our lives because the price is so high.
“Because the war takes the best of us – the best heroes, the best men, women and children. That’s it.
“But we are not ready to give our freedom to this f**king terrorist Putin. That’s it, that’s why we’re fighting.”
Earlier in the interview, Zelensky denied the war was at a stalemate but said it had reached a “difficult situation.”
“On the frontline, it is not a secret, we don't have air defence. That's why Russia controls the sky. If they control all the sky, until the moment when we get air defence, we can't move quickly forward,” he said.
The sprawling frontline between the two warring sides has barely moved in almost a year, despite Ukraine launching a counteroffensive in June to claw back Russian-occupied territory.
Zelensky has regularly met Western leaders to try to secure more air defences and stave off fatigue with the conflict, which has now lasted for more that 600 days.
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