Stalemate ‘not an option’ for Ukraine as country has lost ‘too many people’, says Volodymyr Zelensky

Ukraine’s President Zelensky visits Kharkiv (via REUTERS)
Ukraine’s President Zelensky visits Kharkiv (via REUTERS)

President Volodymyr Zelensky has said that stalemate is “not an option” for Ukraine, insisting that his country has lost “too many people” to concede territory to Russia.

The Ukrainian leader said that his forces would fight to recover all of its territory occupied by Russian forces as fierce fighting continued in the Donbas region.

“We have to achieve a full deoccupation of our entire territory,” he said by video link at an event hosted by the Financial Times.

“I believe that this is a war for independence and the freedom of our country… The opinion of me and most of our people is we must restore all of our territories.”

His remarks came after French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz both suggested in recent weeks that Ukraine may have to concede territory as part of a ceasefire agreement with Moscow.

Last week, Mr Macron was criticised after claiming that Vladimir Putin must not be “humiliated” after failing to achieve his key military objectives in Ukraine.

Asked about Macron’s comments, Mr Zelensky said: “We are not going to humiliate anyone, we are going to respond in kind.”

Mr Zelensky insisted that there “cannot be talks behind Ukraine’s back” and countries should not expect Ukraine to “weaken” their expectations.

“How can we achieve a ceasefire on the territory of Ukraine without listening to the position of this country? This is very surprising.”

Elsewhere during the interview, Mr Zelensky said he was “very happy” that Boris Johnson had won a confidence vote on Monday night as the prime minister was “a great friend of Ukraine”.

“I am glad we have not lost a very important ally,” he added.

Meanwhile, intense fighting continued in the city of Severodonetsk in the country’s east.

The city’s mayor, Oleksandr Stryuk, told Ukrainian television that Ukrainian forces were doing all they could to hold their ground.

“Our armed forces have strengthened their positions and are holding the line,” he said.

In its nightly update, the Ukrainian military said two civilians were killed in Russian shelling in the Donbas and Russian forces had fired at more than 20 communities, using artillery and air strikes.