Exclusive: Zelensky says Ukraine will not give up territory for peace with Russia

“Ukrainians are not ready to give away their land, to accept that these areas belong to Russia. This is our country,” Zelensky said in an exclusive interview aired Thursday on CNN’s “The Situation Room.”

“We always talk about that and we intend to prove it,” he added.

Zelensky spoke to CNN at the same time that one of his closest Western allies, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, announced he would resign. Speaking in Ukrainian through a translator, Zelensky said he was confident British policy towards Ukraine “will not change” even if the country’s leadership is in turmoil.

“He resigned, not because he was in Ukraine. On the contrary, I think what Johnson did for Ukraine helped us a lot. I consider him a friend of Ukraine, but I think his society also supported Ukraine in Europe. Why I think the UK is on the side of the good, on the side of Ukraine,” Zelensky said.

“And I’m sure UK policy towards Ukraine will not change because of Boris Johnson’s resignation. Obviously our relations have benefited a lot from Boris Johnson’s understanding of things. We went through a lot of dramatic moments pretty quickly. The help we have was needed, was delivered quite quickly…whether (his resignation) will affect this rate of aid, I don’t know. I’ll pray to God it won’t affect that aid.”

Russia’s war with Ukraine has now been going on for more than four months and there are no signs of either side pulling out anytime soon. Ukraine’s early successes forced Russia to scale back its initial goals of overthrowing Kiev, and Moscow’s forces have now concentrated on conquering territory in eastern Ukraine. Russian forces have now occupied most of the Luhansk region, save for a few pockets of resistance, and are pushing into towns in Donetsk.
CNN reported last week that White House officials are losing confidence that Ukraine will someday be able to take back all the land it has lost to Russia since the start of the war, even with the help of heavier and more sophisticated weapons. the US and its allies plan to provide Kiev.

Zelensky acknowledged that Russia controls “almost the entire Luhansk region” and says its forces are now “fighting on the fringes of this region”. He said Kiev withdrew to avoid massive troop losses.

“I don’t even understand what exactly they’re checking there. They have destroyed cities and schools. Are they the occupiers of the rubble?’ said Zelensky.

Zelensky said he was pleased that Sweden and Finland were accepted as NATO members, even though the Western military alliance has long opposed Ukraine’s acceptance as a member.

“It is not superficial, but deep understanding of the risks to these countries due to Russia’s aggressive stance towards sovereign countries,” Zelensky said. “That’s why we fully support their membership. The whole world is helping Ukraine, some doing humanitarian aid, some doing financial or military aid, both houses in the United States support us.

“The world is doing a lot, but it could have been easier – Ukraine could have been accepted as a NATO member. It would be much easier than people imagine.”

Still, Zelensky expressed gratitude for the military support Ukraine has received from the United States, which has provided weapons of greater capacity as the war continues, while urging the West to continue providing military support to help Ukraine be to continue the fight.

“(The) United States is helping Ukraine, a lot, but it’s not enough to win. I hope my confidence will accelerate this aid to Ukraine,” Zelensky said. “We want this aid to increase — we’re fighting for our country, we don’t want people from different countries fighting for our territory. But the US is a global economy and can help us with both weapons and finances.

“And also the US can influence the decisions of the European countries – this is also the political support. I have to be honest, some countries in Europe want a balance between Russia and Ukraine. But thanks to the help of the US they started to provide support So when I talk about the volume and speed of arms support, I’m not just calling on (to) the United States, I’m calling on all world leaders and saying that the faster aid, the increase in aid, it will save the lives of Ukrainians and help us reclaim the territories occupied by Russia.”

When asked if the war could be over before the end of the year, Zelensky said: “Our country will remain united and united. If the powerful weapons of our partners come to us in time, and if good luck and God to our side we can achieve a lot before the end of the year and we can stop this war. At least we can stop the military part of this war.”

Zelensky also reiterated his call for US President Joe Biden to visit Kiev and said it would send a message to Russia and the world.

“We would like to see President Biden in Ukraine. I heard he supported the idea. There are some security issues that stand in the way of his visit, we understand,” Zelensky said. “I really think this would help the Ukrainians. Ukrainians support (the) United States, the confidence of the Ukrainians in the United States is very high, just like in the UK and Poland and the Baltic States.

“So visits from the world leaders who are not just partners but true friends — they give a signal, a sign, that the United States supports Ukraine because they believe in Ukrainian victory and are not afraid of Russia. They come flying despite the missiles in. They are not afraid of Putin because the world is much bigger than one leader of one country.”

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