Tuesday, December 6

Volodimir Zelensky is the president of Ukraine and will remain so

Like all the men around Volodymyr Zelensky, Ihor Zhovkva, deputy chief of staff for the presidency, avoids strident tones but is not willing to go back on his firm points. With this as a starting point, in this interview, held last Saturday, he maintains that “the Russian side is not ready” to reach an agreement for a ceasefire, although he rules out that kyiv is considering handing over Ukrainian territory.

What are the positions that are blocking the peace agreement with Moscow?

(So ​​far) unfortunately there have not been many results. I remind you that we started negotiations with the agreement to establish humanitarian corridors, but to this day not all corridors are working well. But when a serious negotiation is made, there is always a ceasefire, so that while the diplomats discuss, the armed forces do not bomb. But this is not the case. The shelling has continued day after day, night after night, hour after hour. They are attacking civilian targets, women and children have been targeted, so so far the negotiations are still going on, but they are far from continuity.

But what are the demands of Russia that you are not accepting?

We are ready to discuss some points. But we will not discuss handing over Ukrainian territory, we will not discuss giving up parts of Ukraine.

“We will not discuss the surrender of the Ukrainian territory”

They do not agree to cede Crimea, Donetsk, Lugansk…

Crimea, Donetsk, Luhansk are Ukrainian territories and there is no agreement on that.

Is there a solution that you consider acceptable?

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I will not reveal the details of the negotiations, but once again, one of the main issues that we want to address, with these negotiations, is strong security guarantees for my country, because before the war we did not have the security guarantees that the world, we were deprived of the third largest nuclear arsenal in 1994 and instead we got the Budapest memorandum, the so-called memorandum that guaranteed absolutely nothing for my country, it only stated that the countries were going to guarantee the security of Ukraine. It also didn’t work in 2014 when Russia started attacks against Ukraine and in 2022 when Russia has started an open war against Ukraine. The Budapest memorandum never worked.

Would you accept any formula of neutrality for your country?

Again, it could be argued, but only in combination with security guarantees.

And is it part of the discussion that Zelensky resigns from being president of Ukraine?

No no no. We have never heard these demands, he is the president of Ukraine and he will remain so.

Zelensky said that Ukraine will not join NATO. Will they keep their request to join the European Union?

Definitely, as for NATO, we see that it is not ready to accept Ukraine for now. As for the EU, it is a very important process for Ukraine. At the end of February, my president submitted the application for Ukraine to become a member of the EU. (…) Ukraine is ready to do it very quickly, in a few weeks, but now we are afraid that the European bureaucracy will bury this issue, that it will try to make it as long as possible, so we ask the members of the European Union to influence the European Commission to proceed with the process quickly. Ukraine deserves to be a part of the European family because now we are fighting not only for our security and for our national interests, we are fighting for European values ​​and we are fighting for the entire European Union.

Are you disappointed with the European leaders?

Some of them might support Ukraine a little more strongly.

And the other international alliances that Ukraine could have in the future?

We are absolutely serious about establishing new types of union or alliances, thinking not only of Ukraine’s security, but of Ukraine’s European security. So yes, we welcome this discussion among European nations, and not just among European nations.

Several nations offered to mediate in this crisis. China, for example.

China’s position is very important. China is one of the greatest powers in the world and should not be drawn into the conflict by the Russian Federation, as some speculations we have heard say. So we expect wisdom from the Chinese leader.

What are the main difficulties of the Ukrainian Army at the moment?

We need air defense systems, anti-missile systems and combat aircraft. If our allies help us close the sky, this will bring us very close to victory.

“If our allies help us close the sky, this will bring us very close to victory”

What is the city or area that concerns you the most right now?

Mariupol is a humanitarian disaster. (…) The rest of the cities that (Russian troops) have managed to surround in southern Ukraine are also not in good condition. They are trying to erase some towns on the outskirts of kyiv from the land. The situation is also not good in Chernigiv, in the north. But they have not succeeded in capturing or encircling the main cities, neither kyiv nor Kharkov nor Odessa have been captured. They will probably try to do it, in addition to bombing the rest of the towns they will try to attack those main cities to surround them.

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In the last week we have also seen several attacks in the west.

Unfortunately it is possible to think that they will continue to do so.

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Do you regret anything your government could have done better at some point?

No, we only regret that the international community did not pay much attention to what my president was saying, when he said that please apply preventive sanctions so that a war does not occur in Ukraine.


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