Key points from Zelensky's interview to AFP

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky gave an interview to AFP (Roman PILIPEY)
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky gave an interview to AFP (Roman PILIPEY)

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky spoke to AFP Friday about the main challenges facing his country: a new Russian assault, Western aid, a lack of soldiers, an upcoming peace summit and an Olympic truce.

Below, AFP gives a rundown of key quotes from Zelensky's exclusive interview:

- Russian offensive on Kharkiv -

"They started their operation. It could consist of several waves. There was the first wave, and the situation there is controlled."

Russian forces are "five to ten kilometres from the border to the point where we stopped them... I won't say it's a great success (for Russia) but we have to be sober and understand that they are going deeper into our territory."

"They want to attack (but) they understand that (attacking) Kharkiv is very difficult. It is a big city, and they understand that we have forces that will fight for a long time."

"If they are stopped, they will not die in millions for the sake of Kharkiv."

- Attack on Kyiv? -

"They don't have the forces (for) a full-scale offensive on the capital like the one they had at the beginning of the invasion."

- The battle for the skies -

"I believe that today, we have about twenty-five percent of what we need to defend Ukraine. I'm talking about air defence."

"As for the aircraft, I say this openly, so that Russia does not have air superiority, our fleet should have 120 to 130 modern aircraft."

"In total we need this fleet of F-16s in the number I am talking about in order to have parity," he said.

- Increase the troops -

"We need to staff the reserves. This is a serious number of brigades, existing brigades, which, a large number of them, are empty. We need to do this so that the guys have a normal rotation. Then their morale will be improved."

- No Olympic truce -

"I said: Emmanuel, we can't believe it. Let's pretend that there is some kind of ceasefire," he said in reference to French President Emmanuel Macron's call for a truce during the Paris games.

"First of all, we don't trust Putin. Second, he won't withdraw his troops."

"Third... tell me, I told Emmanuel, who can guarantee that Russia will not use this time to bring its forces to our territory?"

"We are against any truce that plays into the hands of the enemy".

- Call to China -

Chinese leaders "live a little bit with the feeling that if Russia loses the war, it is not a loss for Russia, but a victory for the United States."

"For them, it is a victory for the West. And they want to find a balance between the two... That's why I would like to see China involved in the Peace Summit" on June 15 and 16.

The involvement of global players like China is important because "they have influence over Russia and the more such countries we have on our side... the more Russia will have to deal with this".

- West is 'afraid' -

"We are in a nonsense situation where the West is afraid that Russia will lose the war. And it does not want Ukraine to lose it."

"Ukraine's final victory will lead to Russia's defeat. And the final victory of Russia will lead to Ukraine's defeat."

"Of course we want the war to end with a fair peace for us. Of course the West wants the war to end. Period. As soon as possible. And, for them, this is a fair peace."

- Western ban on striking Russia -

"They can fire any weapons from their territory at ours. This is the biggest advantage that Russia has. We can't do anything to their systems, which are located on the territory of Russia, with Western weapons."

ant-brw/rlp