During an interview with British tabloid The Sun, President Zelensky touched upon various pertinent issues, particularly Russia's alleged efforts to oust him from power, the challenging conditions on the front lines, and the prerequisites for returning Ukrainian refugees back to Ukraine.
The Kyiv Post has highlighted the main points from the interview below:
- "Maidan 3" and the Change of Power in Ukraine until the End of 2023
Last week, Zelensky revealed that Russian are preparing a special operation, "Maidan-3," which is aimed at altering the political landscape in Ukraine. He said that Kremlin is attempting to sow division within Ukrainian society, creating “chaos” within the country.
“Our intelligence has information, which also came from our partners,” the President explained in an interview with Bloomberg.
Speaking to The Sun, he shared more details, revealing that, according to the information he received, Russia wants a new Ukrainian president by the end of 2023, and they're ready to do whatever it takes.
“So that’s the idea, until the end of the year. They have even named the operation. But you see, we can live with it.”
- Peace Talks with Russia
Zelensky said Kyiv can only have proper peace talks with Russia once its army leaves Ukraine.
Despite the challenges on the battlefield, the President stated that it's not the right time to befriend Russia. Instead, the focus should be on negotiations after the army withdrawal.
“We do not believe that Putin, nor Russia, we do not believe that they want to finish the war. They want to kill us. And we want justice," Zelensky said. “Therefore, we are not speaking about peace at any price.”
Acknowledging doubts among Ukraine's allies about the ability to remove Russian troops, Zelensky insisted that this skepticism won't sway Kyiv's stance.
“Is it difficult on the battlefield? Yes. But making friends or entering the diplomatic table now with Russia? No!”
The President has also ruled out the top general’s Zaluzhny's claim that the war 'has reached a stalemate,' but at the same time admitted that Ukraine needs more success on the battlefield.
“In morale, there is no stalemate. We are at our home. Russians are on our land. Therefore, there is no stalemate in this.”
- Assassination Attempts
Since the beginning of Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine, President Zelensky has survived at least 5-6 assassination attempts.
He said that when the first one occurred, he and his team were shocked, but they quickly got used to it.
“The first one is very interesting, when it is the first time, and after that, it is just like Covid," Zelensky said. "At first, people don’t know what to do with it, and it’s looking very scary.”
One of Zelensky’s aides said at least a dozen attempts had been made on his life within the first few weeks of the war.
When Putin's invasion kicked off on Feb.24, 2022, Russian special forces parachuted into Kyiv to take out Zelensky.
The President's security crew threw together makeshift barriers and plywood to seal off his office. However, Zelensky says he subsequently adapted to the assassination attempts, and they don't bother him as much anymore.
“And then after that, it is just intelligence sharing with you the detail that one more group came to Ukraine to [attempt] this.”
- The US and China Might Force Russia to Withdraw its Troops from Ukraine
According to Zelensky, the US and China can jointly force Russia to withdraw troops from Ukraine.
"And I really think that Russia will push until the US and China together will tell them very, very seriously 'go out of the territory.'"
He added that the Kremlin still doesn't see that the whole world has united against them; they still have partners and allies worldwide. Therefore, the existing conditions won't encourage them to end the war.
"Europe can't be alone with it because Russia is not afraid of them [Europe], because Russia doesn't feel now that the whole world is totally against them."
- More Air Defense Systems Will Help Bring Refugees Back to Ukraine
According to Zelensky, most citizens will return home from abroad if seven or eight major cities are reliably protected by air defense systems.
"The decisive factor is air defense. If you can give it - give it, if you can sell it - sell it! If you can't give it to us or sell it - okay, co-production. Give us the license, and we will find money. We don't need anything [that much] as we need air defense on the front line," Zelensky said.
"I know that if seven/eight cities in Ukraine, the biggest one, will have total air defense for their regions and their regions - not only the city but the region around the city - we will return most of our people from the countries [abroad]," he added.
He explained that if Ukrainian refugees return from abroad, they will pay taxes that will help close the "main gap" in the state budget. Then the state will not have to ask for financial assistance from the US and Western partners in such quantity as it is now.
"It will shut the financial gap in our budget, and we will not need so much money and financial help from the US and European partners to help and support our budget," Zelensky stressed.
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