President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy outlined the possibilities of dialogue with Russia, the release of people at Azovstal, Ukraine's plans for Crimea and Donbas, and why Vladimir Putin should think about saving the state, not his face.
Conditions for negotiations with Russia
According to the President of Ukraine, the issue is becoming more complicated every day because the Armed Forces of Ukraine liberate new towns every day and see the results of the atrocities of the Russians.
He also explains to the Italians that Ukraine has been looking for ways to negotiate with the Russian Federation for 8 years of the war, but now the Ukrainians are negative.
Nevertheless, Zelenskyy stresses that he is personally ready to speak with the bloodthirsty dictator Vladimir Putin.
"As president, I am ready to talk to Putin, but only to him, without intermediaries, and on the terms of dialogue, not ultimatums."
The President adds that before any negotiations, it is necessary that the Russians moved at least the crossing lines that were before February 24.
What kind of peace Ukraine wants
The head of state stresses that Ukrainians want simple things: respect for their own sovereignty, territorial integrity, people, language, and independence of Ukraine.
All these things, according to Zelenskyy, were violated by Russia, and now it needs to be restored — that is, to withdraw Russian troops from Ukrainian lands.
"We need to de-occupy our homes, our villages, I’m not talking about the need to return everything that was stolen – ordinary houses were robbed, people were robbed," he explained.
At the same time, the President stresses that the main values for Ukraine are family and living people:
"So whatever they have robbed, let them leave. Anyway, they will be responsible for everything. So, please, leave beyond the borders of our state."
Zelenskyy adds that there will definitely be reparations, trials, and sentences for those who committed atrocities on Ukrainian lands, but the dead people cannot be returned, and there is "no forgiveness" for this.
Who is tougher towards Russia — EU or U.S.
Answering the question that some of the EU leaders want dialogue with Russia more than the Americans, the President explains that dialogue is impossible without a tough, strong position in relation to Russia's actions. And he sees no difference in the positions of the EU and the U.S. in this.
"I think that everyone is united in the need to restore the territorial integrity of Ukraine. At least that's what European leaders, the U.S., Canada, and Britain tell me," he says.
At the same time, Zelenskyy stresses that without a strong army, Ukraine will be weak even at the negotiating table with Russia.
"Some European leaders believe that it is necessary to find one approach or another to Putin, but understand me: we have been looking for them for many years, and from this today on these approaches there are corpses, the corpses of our people, and I am not ready to find such bloody approaches to Putin," he added.
On negotiations with Putin with a glass
According to him, today the path when Ukraine could resolve the conflict with the Russian Federation "with a glass at the table" with Russia has already been passed:
"You see, there is no wine in this glass, there is the blood of our people there."
He added that after Bucha, Borodianka, and Mariupol, is there is another such case — and people will no longer have a bit of patience:
"People don't want to forgive anything."
In order to change the attitude towards the Russians, time is needed, as well as a lot of apologies, Zelenskyy also says.
"I don’t know the amount of these apologies. I do not understand how to return children to people whom they have lost. 300 children were killed — just killed. And we сould not find many.
At the same time, Zelenskyy believes that if there is at least one percent chance of solving something through dialogue, then it is necessary to cling to it.
On chance to let Putin "save his face"
The President of Ukraine is confident that the bloodthirsty leader of Russia will no longer be able to "save his face".
"Honestly, I don’t think about what will happen in the future with this person. We should think about what will happen to Russia in the future. I, as the president of Ukraine, first of all think about what we will have. Save face? He needs today, I think, to save his state.
According to Zelenskyy, this war has made a historical curtain between Ukraine and the Russian Federation, and it will be the next generations who will restore relations.
According to the President, it is Putin who is now destroying the achievements of Russian culture, because the whole world turns away from Russia and Russians when they hear the Russian language:
"What he is doing now — he spells the death of it, 'protecting the Russian language', as he says, he spells the death of the Russian language."
Zelenskyy added that a lot of Ukrainians who used to speak Russian fluently no longer want to do so.
On "humiliation" of Russia and Nazism
Commenting on the narrative that Nazism grew precisely from the fact that after World War I Germany was humiliated, and what is the way out for Russia in similar conditions, Zelenskyy stresses that Europe and Ukraine should not look for a way out for Moscow.
"And Mr. Macron does it in vain. He has an excellent experience that until Russia itself wants it, until it itself understands that it needs it, it will not look for any way out," he explains.
Further, Zelenskyy explains that French President Emanuel Macron tried to come to an understanding with Putin, but in fact, through him, he was passing Russia's ultimatums about territorial concessions and the surrender of Ukraine's sovereignty. That is, the dialogue did not work anyway.
"Nazism is weakness"
Adolf Hitler was born as the Fuhrer of the bloody Reich not because Germany felt humiliated or weak or wanted to revive its powerful economy, the President believes.
"No. No and no again. There is no justification for Nazism. They are not here. Nazism is weakness. And there was an internal weakness, because it’s easier to kill someone and take something than to think with your own head, be creative, find something, invent, make the economy powerful, earn money, not seize, but earn. It is always hard to make money," Zelenskyy says.
He recalls that Europe and the world allowed Hitler to do all this, as well as the Fuhrer's entourage who agreed with his crazy ideas. Everyone has been trying to do the same with Russia since 2014, the President of Ukraine stresses:
"Some of the leaders wanted to find an approach, others wanted to be friends at a short distance, there was a lot of all this. On February 24, Russia showed: "I don’t care about all your concessions, if I decide to take the territories, I will do it." And they do it. And now Emanuel does not need to do these or those diplomatic pas.
Is it possible to defeat Putin
According to the President of Ukraine, the Russian army is four times larger than the Ukrainian one, and the state is 28 times larger, but Ukraine is on its own land:
"We are 10 times stronger as people because we are on our own land."
From the very beginning, Kyiv and Moscow are in unequal conditions, he notes, but it’s not about Russia's power here:
"If the world is united around Ukraine, then it is really possible to win when we fight for the truth and do not fight alone. It is necessary to constantly support us, and yes, then victory will be ours."
How to save people from Azovstal
According to the President, the rescue of the military blocked at the Azovstal plant, unfortunately, still depends on the will of Russia.
Everything that Ukraine can do with its partners, it does, the UN and the Red Cross were able to relieve and evacuate civilians from the plant in Mariupol, now talks are being on to evacuate the wounded.
Zelenskyy notes that Ukraine is ready to swap the wounded and surviving soldiers, and also wants to carry away the bodies of the dead people, because their loved ones are waiting for this.
"There are rules of war. And if you have blocked, but we cannot reach and unblock it militarily, then the question of dialogue comes into play. There are difficult moments where we, whether we want it or not, have to communicate with the Russian side," he adds.
On food crisis in the world
Now it is not just a matter of the Donbas occupation, the President notes, answering a question about the possibility of dialogue on this region.
The Russians have blocked all Ukrainian ports, he stresses, and now they say that the global crisis will begin because of the sanctions, but this is a lie:
"They have blocked all our ports. And this is a food crisis. Believe me, food prices in Asia, the Arab world, and African states will be striking."
He explained that Europe, Turkey, the Americans, and the Canadians are ready to help take out food, but the Russians shoot at the ships — the Ukrainians cannot leave the ports, while others cannot enter them.
"Today they have blocked 11 million tons of grain. Do they have a conscience? It's about what? Barley, wheat is bread. There will simply be no bread in Africa. That's it," the President warns.
Attack from Transnistria
According to Zelenskyy, Ukraine does not exclude attack attempts from Transnistria, where 100% of the people are controlled by the Russian Federation.
There is not much civilization in those territories, and most people have three passports — illegal Transnistrian, Russian, and Moldovan, the President says.
At the same time, for the Armed Forces of Ukraine, a possible attack from that side is not a very big problem, because out of 15,000 servicemen, up to 3,000 people can fight there.
In addition, the only opportunity to pull in troops from Russia there is from the air, the unrecognized region has no common border with Moscowia.
"It could be a challenge, but we don't see a very big threat there."
"Independence" of Crimea
Answering the question whether Ukraine could ever recognize the independence of the Russian-occupied Crimea, Zelenskyy stresses that this was never discussed.
"We will never recognize Crimea as part of the Russian Federation," he also adds and notes that Crimea had autonomy with its parliament even before the war, but it was an autonomous republic of Crimea within Ukraine.
The President recalls that at the talks with the Russian Federation, it was about signing an agreement on resolving the issue of Crimea through diplomatic means within 10 years, but the Russians eventually refused.
On autonomy of Donbas
The Russians first seized the Ukrainian regions and demanded broad autonomy for the so-called "DPR" and "LPR". But on the eve of the invasion, they even recognized ORDLO as separate republics, without any autonomy, Zelenskyy reminds the Italians.
"They did not offer wide autonomy, but they recognized the territories of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions as separate republics. And the war started: they came to "clear the Donbas of the Nazis", "it’s just that everything is turned upside down," Zelenskyy explains.
The Russians did not talk about this or that autonomy, he adds: they invaded in order to lay down their own conditions after that.
"What is the main question here: before talking about something about this or that format of these territories, tens of thousands of people should not be killed. We will never recognize their autonomy," he stresses.
In addition, the President recalls that the Russians had actually blocked five regions, apart from the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, they also tried to capture Kharkiv, captured Kherson and part of the Zaporizhzhia region.
"Even Odesa, the Russian-speaking city of Odesa, on May 9 and 8, during the days of the victory over Nazism, they bombed Odesa with cruise missiles those days. And people in Odesa hate them."
On peacemaking efforts of the Pope
Regarding the attempts of the pontiff to reconcile Russia and Ukraine, the President stresses that he respects Francis, but the Ukrainian society reacted very negatively to the action, when a Ukrainian and a Russian woman together carried a cross and two flags — Russian and Ukrainian.
"There was a mental split — today it's the banner with which they killed us, and we have this association."
He adds that now the tricolor symbolizes only one thing for Ukrainians — an aggressive invasion, already at the level of psychology.
At the same time, Zelenskyy did not comment on the words of Francis that "NATO barked too much on the borders of Russia." He noted that the Alliance itself could better comment on this issue.