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This is a bad moment for diplomacy – Zelenskyy

Sunday, 10 September 2023, 23:43
This is a bad moment for diplomacy – Zelenskyy
Volodymyr Zelenskyy. Photo: President’s Office

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says he is emotionally ready for a long war and believes that now is a "bad moment" for negotiations with Russia.

Source: Zelenskyy in an interview with The Economist

Quote: "I have to be ready, my team has to be ready for the long war, and emotionally I am ready".

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Details: Zelenskyy told The Economist that "some partners may take Ukraine's recent difficulties on the battlefield as a reason to force it to negotiate with Russia", but said that "this is a bad moment, since Putin sees the same."

He noted that Russian President Vladimir Putin is trying to exhaust Ukraine, but Russia itself is fragile. "[Putin] does not understand that in the long war, he will lose. Because it does not matter that 60% or 70% [of Russians] support him. No, his economy will lose," Zelenskyy said.

At the same time, President Zelenskyy is well aware of the risks to his country if the West begins to withdraw its economic support. With some of his Western allies, including the US, holding elections next year, Zelenskyy knows that maintaining support will be difficult, especially in the absence of significant progress on the frontline, the article says.

Zelenskyy also stressed that if Putin hopes that Donald Trump's victory in the US presidential election in 2024 will bring him victory, he is mistaken, because Trump would "never" support Putin. "That isn’t what strong Americans do," Zelenskyy said.

He also expects Joe Biden to continue his support for Ukraine if he is re-elected. "Do they want Afghanistan, part two?" the Ukrainian president asked.

Zelenskyy noted that victory in the war will not come "tomorrow or the day after tomorrow," but this is not "some kind of fantastical dream".

The Ukrainian president also categorically rejects the idea of a compromise with Putin. The war will continue "as long as Russia remains on Ukrainian territory," he says. Zelenskyy is convinced that a negotiated agreement will not be permanent.

Those who decide to talk to the man in the Kremlin are "tricking themselves," he says, "like the Western leaders who signed an agreement with Adolf Hitler in Munich in 1938 only to watch him invade Czechoslovakia".

The curtailment of aid to Ukraine by its allies will only prolong the war, Zelenskyy believes. And it will create risks for the West in its own backyard. In his view, it is impossible to predict how the millions of Ukrainian refugees in European countries would react to their country being abandoned. Ukrainians have generally "behaved well" and are "very grateful" to those who have taken them in. But it would not be a "good story" for Europe if it "were to drive these people into a corner".

Meanwhile, The Economist writes, a prolonged war of attrition would mean "a fork in the road" for Ukraine, which could lose even more people, both on the front line and to exile. According to Zelenskyy, this would require a "totally militarised economy".

The government will have to put that prospect before its citizens, the president said, without specifying how.

According to Zelenskyy, a new social contract cannot be a decision by just one person.

"Almost 19 months into the war, the president says he is ‘morally’ ready for change", The Economist notes. But he will discuss this idea with his people only if the weakness in the eyes of his Western supporters becomes a "trend". When asked if that moment has come, Zelenskyy replied: "No, not yet, thank God."

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