15:59 17 May 2024

Zelensky holds press conference, discusses peace summit goals, negotiations with Russia, Macron's initiative, and government rotations

Photo: Rubryka

During a meeting with journalists, President Volodymyr Zelensky discussed the Russian objectives in the Kharkiv region, shared his vision for the removal of Russian troops, addressed the concerns of Ukraine's partners, and commented on the rotating personnel within the Ukrainian government and the Office of the President.

Rubryka writes about it.

The use of Western weapons on the territory of the Russian Federation

Regarding Ukraine's use of weapons from the West for attacks on the territory of the Russian Federation, the president does not believe that there should be any prohibitions "because this is not about the offensive of the Ukrainian army using Western weapons on the territory of Russia."

"It's protection. It's the same as pre-emptive sanctions that we told everyone about before a full-scale invasion. It's the same thing. It's a warning. Not only that, but they also have the same gray area there. They have evicted people, and so on. They also have almost no civilians at the border. For obvious reasons," Zelensky emphasizes.

Blinken's visit

As the president said, the trip of US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken to Ukraine has several goals.

"First, a package of 2 billion dollars. Second, proposals from the United States on security guarantees. The draft Treaty on Security Guarantees is already there. Third, we discussed our vision for the NATO Summit. They heard our vision, accepted this information, and will return with feedback," Zelensky shared.

However, he emphasized that the main issue is air defense.

"At what stage is the dialogue with this or that country that has the appropriate systems? Where do we see them, where do our partners see them, when can this happen, and what needs to be done for this?" Zelensky added.

Negotiations with the Russian Federation

During the conversation with journalists, the president also stressed that Western partners are not pushing Ukraine to sit down at the negotiating table with Russia.

"Partners are not pushing us. However, it seems to me that it is in the world's atmosphere. And here, we just need to be very stable and strong. And the right platform was chosen today, where we have an initiative—the Peace Summit," Zelensky believes.

Peace Summit

When discussing the upcoming global peace summit in Switzerland (scheduled for June 1516, 2024) and its objectives, the head of state said that Kyiv hopes to obtain a communique as an outcome.

"We are striving for energy security, including nuclear. This is a matter of interest for all of us, as it allows us to prepare for the upcoming winter. We aim to establish free shipping for all Ukrainian cargo by sea without any risks. This will ensure the safety of the people in Odesa and the entire southern region. Because they hit the ports – it's infrastructure, the sea, and the economy. We also see this as an important step towards facilitating the exchange of prisoners. This humanitarian issue is equally important to the issue of energy. Nuclear safety and energy are widely supported causes. I believe that where there is nuclear safety, we can also ensure overall safety in our energy system. As for the exchange of prisoners, it also includes the return of children. That's basically what we want to get," Zelensky.

Withdrawal of Russian troops

The president also laid out his vision for withdrawing Russian troops from Ukraine and emphasized the importance of involving a wide range of countries in this matter.

"If we have a serious number of countries and there is an appropriate communique, I believe this will be our diplomatic advantage. After that, we can organize platforms in certain countries where these points will be technically worked out. This plan will then be given to the representatives of Russia. How it was with the grain initiative: we agreed on a plan with the UN and with Türkiye, and then they separately agreed on this plan with the Russian Federation, the first corridor," he said.

Zelensky emphasized that "it is important that there are not two countries, but many countries."

"Otherwise, the Russians will jump out, as they did with the 'grain corridor,' and we will have to build another corridor. It was tough. And so this is the plan for those three points. If we succeed, it definitely paves the way for the next meeting, where all the other important things must be developed," the president notes.

According to him, the Ukrainian government has the following vision: before talking with the Russian Federation, the whole world must agree upon a detailed plan.

"We are working in different directions. I am talking to the leaders. Andrii Yermak handles diplomacy. Yesterday, together with Rasmussen in Denmark, he presented an analytical document on Ukraine in NATO. And in Brussels, he and our team met with many ambassadors, including China and the Global South, regarding the summit," the president added.

Accession of Ukraine to the EU and NATO

Speaking about joining the European Union and NATO, the head of state expressed the opinion that the Ukrainian side has done everything possible for today.

"Only politics remained. That is, instrumentally and operationally, we did everything to open negotiations with Ukraine in June in the EU. I think that everything will work out there. Even difficult partners have become a little easier today. We actively worked with them," Zelensky said.

Rotations in the government and Office of the President

He briefly commented on the personnel issue in the Cabinet of Ministers and the President's Office, noting that it "needs to be resolved."

"We discussed it with the prime minister. We currently hold interim positions in multiple ministries. We must address this issue," says Zelensky.

The situation with weapons and the Czech initiative

The President assures progress even with the Czech initiative concerning artillery ammunition.

"For the first time in the years of the war, none of the brigades complained that there was no artillery projectile. And this has been happening for the past two months. However, much work still has to be done. The Czech initiative will continue. We are negotiating with all partners about money," he informed.

According to Zelensky, an initiative is being launched now when partners will give money to produce Ukrainian drones and EWs in this specific direction. He added that the technical performance of Ukrainian drones is getting better.

"We are starting to produce a lot of them, but there is no money for them; we can produce more than there is money," the president states.

The position of partners and their fears

According to Zelensky, the partners are afraid of the defeat of the Russian Federation in this war.

"They would like Ukraine to win so that Russia does not lose because it will be an unpredictable defeat and unpredictable geopolitics. I believe that this is not how it works. For Ukraine to win, we need to get everything for victory," he said.

Macron's idea about Western troops in Ukraine

Zelensky also commented on French President Emmanuel Macron's statement regarding the possible deployment of foreign troops to Ukraine.

"Training in Ukraine is logical – we have already talked about it. It is faster than going, for example, to France, even to Poland. And then – cooperation on demining, it is possible to create a hub for repairing French, for example, equipment right in Ukraine, it can be sent to France. I look at it very positively, I will say honestly. All this could be a step that would encourage other countries as well. That is, it opens a new page in this war," the president believes.

Ceasefire during the Olympics and how long the war can last

The President of Ukraine said that he does not yet believe in a truce with Russia during the Summer Olympic Games.

"We've already had a cease-fire, but it's not very effective with this enemy. Plus, there's a concern – who can guarantee that their forces won't move closer to us during the cease-fire? The cease-fire doesn't prevent them from advancing and launching an attack. Honestly, I don't fully understand the specifics. It still sounds like a dead story for me," says Zelensky.

The president believes that the Russian dictator Volodymyr Putin does not benefit from dialogue with the whole world because even China itself will tell him: "Explain the seizure of territories!".

"China stands for the territorial integrity of any state. Today, the ground should be in place for Putin to look for a way out of this situation as well. Because now he has no discomfort. Where are we shooting? What targets can we strike? How will economic assistance impact us? Will we increase or lift sanctions? Will a tribunal take place? Each of these questions needs to be addressed. We must focus on daily progress in all these areas," Zelensky said.

During a meeting with journalists, President Volodymyr Zelensky revealed that the Defense Forces were able to stabilize the situation in the north of the Kharkiv region, where Russian troops had advanced 10 kilometers into Ukraine.

According to the head of state, the goal of the Russians is Vovchansk. And this, in addition to the fact that they want "a suitable zone of 10 kilometers, they want to always develop success, if there is one." But the most important thing for today is that Ukraine's Defense Forces have stabilized the situation, Zelensky said.

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