President Zelensky holds press conference in Kyiv metro — highlights

24 April, 02:34 PM
President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky held a press conference on April 23 in the Kyiv metro (Photo:Office of the President)

President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky held a press conference on April 23 in the Kyiv metro (Photo:Office of the President)

President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky held a large press conference at the Khreschatyk central metro station in Kyiv on Apr. 23, which lasted almost two hours.

Here, New Voice of Ukraine provides highlights of the key statements the president made during his meeting with journalists. 

Negotiations with Russia. Zelensky advocates a diplomatic path to ending the war waged by Russia, and has insisted on direct talks since the beginning of Russian aggression. In his opinion, any formats of dialogue through intermediaries are ineffective: 

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"Every sound person always chooses the diplomatic path, because they know: even if it is difficult, it can stop the loss of thousands, tens of thousands, and with such neighbors — hundreds of thousands, and maybe even millions of lives. I do not want that (…) I insist on further direct talks with (Russian dictator Vladimir) Putin. I'm not afraid for my safety, because Ukrainians aren't afraid either (…) I don't want to, but I have to." 

Zelensky said security guarantees for Ukraine, its neutral status, and the fate of Donbas and Crimea would be the most pressing issues at the talks. 

"Referendums" of the occupiers. At the same time, the president named two conditions under which Ukraine will withdraw from any negotiations with the aggressor country: if the occupiers hold a pseudo-referendum in the temporarily occupied Kherson and Zaporizhzhia oblasts, or if they kill the remaining defenders of Mariupol. 

Breaking the siege of Mariupol and liberating territories. Currently, the Armed Forces of Ukraine are not in a position to break the siege of the city by military means. According to Zelensky, the Ukrainian commanders stationed at the besieged Azovstal plant in the city "understand this perfectly well": 

"We have a full moral right to unblock our cities militarily. And we have high hopes that we will be able to do that. Are we ready now? No. Don't trust anyone: we are not ready for military unblocking. That's the reality." 

Zelensky said that Ukraine would regain control of all Russian-occupied territories as soon as it had enough weapons to do so — "it will not be a matter of 10-20 years or not an eight-year war since 2014." He added that every day Ukraine could "concede" a settlement due to the power of certain Russian groups, but also regain it the next day. 

Weapons supply. Zelensky announced that there would be a visit by U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Pentagon chief Lloyd Austin, during which he said they would discuss the weapons needed for Ukraine. He also stressed that he was not considering the possibility that Western partners would not provide Ukraine with the promised weapons — "they have no alternative, we have no other chance to win back our land." 

"Over the past week, signals, messages, steps, deadlines, the number of weapons from the United States — everything has improved. I’m grateful for that. (…) If this swiftness increases in other (countries), we will liberate our territories more quickly,” Zelensky said. 

On the missile strike on Odesa. Zelensky said that the death toll from the recent Russian attack had risen to eight. 

"Seven rockets flew to Odesa today (April 23 - ed.), two we shot down, a multi-storey building was hit, eight people died, 18 or 20 were injured, a three-month-old child was killed. When the war began, this child was a month old. What is going on? Obnoxious bastards. There are no other words." 

The threat of a nuclear strike. Zelensky said he believed that a rational person would not resort to the use of nuclear weapons, but he does not rule out that Russia is capable of this: 

"I do not think that a reasonable person can use nuclear weapons. If the Russian leadership has not lost touch with reality, they will not use nuclear weapons. Could (we expect this) from the Russian Federation? Maybe. Do I believe in this? I do not want to believe in this. If we had nuclear weapons, we would never use them, because we are absolutely reasonable people." 

The possibility of an attack by Russia on Moldova. Ukraine sees signals that Russia plans to gain access to Moldova, including the unrecognized breakaway territory of Transnistria. 

"As for Transnistria and Moldova, can the same thing happen in Mariupol? Yes, it can happen. Thousands of tanks, thousands of armored vehicles, a difficult situation," he said, adding that Russia's goal is a land corridor, but it is too early to talk about the possibility of implementing these plans. 

Punishment for the Russian military. Zelensky said that all those who ordered the murder of people will stand before a tribunal: 

"Everyone will definitely appear before a tribunal, before the courts — all those who gave these shameful orders to murder people, children — every single one. That's right, I'm sure of it, I believe in it. We know how the international process goes, how the international court (works), it could be years. We will wait, and if people like me can't wait, our children will definitely wait, believe me." 

Restoration of Ukraine. Ukraine has established a National Council for the Recovery of Ukraine from the Consequences of the War. Zelensky has already informed the European Union of the recovery program — Ursula von der Leyen and Charles Michel supported it. Bilateral talks have also been launched with the UK, Sweden, Spain and several other countries. 

"Ukraine’s budget alone will not suffice for us to restore this or that city in our country. Here the question is not only of finances, the question is of patronage. It includes specialists: financiers, architects, artists — a large number of professions and people who will come to restore a region to which a state will be assigned (…) Ukraine is following the path to the European Union. I believe that this path will be faster if the EU countries are united by such a large project," Zelensky said.

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