Zelenskyy Disagrees With Biden, Rules Out Ukraine Stalemate With Russia – Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy publicly disagreed with U.S. President Joe Biden’s assessment that Ukraine would likely have to cede some of its territories as part of a peace deal with Russia, insisting that a stalemate with Russia is “not an option.”
During an interview with Financial Times editor Roula Khalaf at the Global Boardroom conference on Tuesday, the Ukrainian president reiterated his goal of reclaiming Crimea and pushing Russian troops out of all Ukrainian territory.
Zelenskyy said that pushing Russian troops back to their positions from before the invasion began on February 24 would constitute a “serious temporary victory,” but insisted that obtaining full sovereignty over Ukrainian land – including Crimea, Luhansk, and Donetsk – remained his goal.
Ukraine’s leader also called for additional military and economic aid, describing how Ukrainian forces are weakening.
“We are inferior in terms of equipment and therefore we are not capable of advancing,” he said. “We are going to suffer more losses and people are my priority.”
The comments come as Russia continues to make gains in eastern Ukraine, taking control of every suburb in Severodonetsk, a contested city in the separatist Luhansk Oblast. Britain’s Ministry of Defence also announced on June 3, the 100th day of the war in Ukraine, that Russia was “achieving tactical success in the Donbas.”
“Russian forces have generated and maintained momentum and currently appear to hold the initiative over Ukrainian opposition,” an intelligence update from the British MoD reads. “Russia controls over 90% of Luhansk Oblast and is likely to complete control in the next two weeks.”
Ukraine’s Leader Doesn’t Agree With Biden Or Macron
Zelenskyy’s comments stand in contrast to claims from U.S. President Joe Biden last week that Ukraine could be required to cede territory to Russia as part of a peace deal.
When asked by a reporter during a press briefing about the May jobs report, the president first said that he would not tell Ukraine how to proceed with negotiations with Russia. Biden then said, however, that it looks as though a negotiated settlement could involve ceding some land to Russia.
“But it appears to me that at some point along the line, there’s going to have to be a negotiated settlement here,” Biden said. “And what that entails, I don’t know. I don’t think anybody knows at the time. But in the meantime, we’re gonna continue to put the Ukrainians in a position where they can defend themselves.”
During the Financial Times interview, President Zelenskyy also dismissed calls from French President Emmanuel Macron to avoid “humiliating” Russia in a war defeat.
“I don’t really understand . . . humiliating Russia. For eight years they have been killing us. What are we talking about here?” Zelenskyy said.
Last week, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba also criticized Macron’s comments, suggesting that they would “only humiliate France.”
“Calls to avoid humiliation of Russia can only humiliate France and every other country that would call for it. Because it is Russia that humiliates itself. We all better focus on how to put Russia in its place. This will bring peace and save lives,” Kuleba said on Twitter.
Jack Buckby is a British author, counter-extremism researcher, and journalist based in New York. Reporting on the U.K., Europe, and the U.S., he works to analyze and understand left-wing and right-wing radicalization, and reports on Western governments’ approaches to the pressing issues of today. His books and research papers explore these themes and propose pragmatic solutions to our increasingly polarized society.