What Zelenskyi said in the annual message in the Rada: the most important statements
President Volodymyr Zelenskyi delivered an annual message to the Verkhovna Rada on the internal and external situation of Ukraine.
The speech lasted an hour. We are posting the key statements of the President.
Zelenskyi assured that the budget for the army in 2021 will not decrease.
"The onset of peace in Ukraine does not mean that we will stop caring about the army. On the contrary, only a modern and efficient army will be the guarantor of further peace and the guarantee of Ukraine's security. And please do not disperse that in 2021 we will cut funds for the army. Not since we haven't yet adopted the budget. But because I won't allow it to happen. At least, these funds will stay at the level of this year. Over 117 billion hryvnias," the President said.
He noted that in 2020 the budget for the army became the largest in the history of Ukraine. During the coronavirus crisis, it did not decrease by a single hryvnia.
The head of state recalled that the US Congress approved military assistance to Ukraine for $250 million.
"In the UK, we signed an agreement for 1 billion 250 million pounds to strengthen the Ukrainian Navy. We have received and are expecting additional Island-class speed boats.
Together with Turkey, we will produce corvettes, engines, and military drones, develop air defense systems," Zelensky stressed.
Zelenskyi also said that the silence regime in Donbas is not ideal, but the longest in the war years.
"On July 27, we declared a ceasefire. Today the silence regime continues for the 86th day in a row, the longest in the war years. Is it perfect? No. Are there any violations? Yes. Are there any attempts to disrupt it? Of course. But I must admit that the number of shots has decreased significantly," Zelensky said.
He added that for all these days we have one combat loss and it hurts, but the fact that we have days, weeks, and even months when we don't bury our heroes when mothers and children don't cry gives hope.
"When local citizens say that they don't listen to the news about "silence," but hear actual silence, it gives hope," the president said.
He also noted that releasing captured Ukrainian citizens continues:
"We remember everyone still in captivity, and we are doing everything for their return".
The President recalled that during his cadence, 136 people were released and returned to their families.
"We have unblocked the Normandy process, which has been blocked since 2016. We managed to free and return 136 of our people to their families. These are our sailors, Oleh Sentsov, Edem Bekirov, Oleksandr Kolchenko, Stanislav Aseev, and many others. We are fighting for every Ukrainian, both military and civil," the president said.
Zelenskyi also drew attention to the fact that a person is the highest value for him. And every citizen should know that the country will leave no one.
He announced that 120 deputies will go to Donbas tomorrow.
"I am very glad that tomorrow 120 deputies of the Servant of the People party will also go to Donbas. Not to Turkey, and not to the Maldives, as before. The deputies will go to the front line. They will hear about the situation there, not from social networks, but from our military and locals. Peace in Donbas and the de-occupation of Crimea are my key priorities," Zelenskyi said.
He added that Donald Tusk (the former head of the European Council – ed.), President of Switzerland Simonetta Sommaruga, special representative of the OSCE head Martin Sajdik, ambassadors of Germany and France in Ukraine, have already visited Donbas.
The President stressed that ending the war in Donbas, the onset of the peace, returning our people, and our territories is the most important point in his activities program for him.
Zelenskyi also believes that now Ukraine has a low COVID-19 mortality rate.
He noted that the GDP drop in Ukraine is less than in many European countries.
"Also, the percentage of deaths from COVID-19. Germany is 4%, France is 9%, Great Britain is 11%, Ukraine is 1.9%," the president said.
He declared that local authorities were sabotaging the quarantine rules ahead of the local elections. We are talking about concerts and public events.
The President concluded his message to Rada with three questions to himself.
"And today I will ask important, frank questions to myself. And I will immediately answer them. Did I think a year ago that it would be so difficult to change the country for the better? No! Would I change my mind if I knew about it then? No. Will we succeed in everything? Yes!" Zelensky said.