Takeaways from AP’s interview with Ukraine’s Zelenskyy

ABOARD A TRAIN FROM SUMY TO KIEV, Ukraine (AP) – A team of journalists from The Associated Press spent two days with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on the train as he visited the southeastern city of Zaporizhia, which still comes under regular shelling from Russian forces , and northern towns in the Sumy region that were liberated shortly after the war started a year ago.

The AP is the first news organization to have traveled extensively with Zelenskyy since the war began. Here are some takeaways from an interview with Zelenskyj when he returned to Kiev late Tuesday.


For much of the war, Ukraine’s military was reinforced with billions of dollars’ worth of ammunition and weapons from Western nations. Zelenskyi welcomed the help but said some of the promised weapons had not yet been delivered.

“We have big decisions about Patriotsbut we don’t really have them,” he said, referring to the US-made air defense system.

Ukrainian soldiers have been training in the US since January to use the Patriot system, but it has not yet been deployed in Ukraine.

Ukraine needs 20 Patriot batteries to protect itself from Russian missiles, and even that may not be enough “since no country in the world has been attacked with so many ballistic missiles,” Zelenskyy said.

Zelenskyy added that a European nation sent another air defense system to Ukraine, but it didn’t work and they “kept changing it over and over”. He did not name the country.

Zelenskyy also reiterated his long-standing call for fighter jets, saying, “We still have nothing when it comes to modern fighter jets.” Poland and Slovakia have decided to supply Ukraine with Soviet-era fighter jets, but so far no western country has agreed, provide modern fighter jets, fearing this could escalate the conflict and draw them deeper.


Zelenskyy was blunt in his assessment of Russian Vladimir Putin, calling him an “informationally isolated person” who “lost everything” in the last year of the war.

“He has no allies,” Zelenskky said, adding that it is clear that even China — an economic powerhouse that has long been favorable to Moscow — is no longer willing to support Russia. Chinese President Xi Jinping recently visited Putin i n Russia but left without publicly announcing any overt support for Moscow’s campaign against Ukraine.

Zelenskyy hinted at Putin’s announcement shortly after Xi’s visit that he would be moving tactical nuclear weapons to Belarus, closer to NATO territory, was intended to distract attention from the fact that the Chinese leader’s visit had not gone well. Putin said the move was at odds with the UK decision provide more depleted uranium Ammunition to Ukraine.

Despite Putin’s nuclear provocations, Zelenskky doesn’t think the Russian leader is ready to use the bomb.

“If someone wants to save themselves, they’re really going to use . . . these,” he said. “I’m not sure he’s ready for that.”


This week was on Selenskyj’s travel plan a meeting with Rafael Mariano Grossi, the head of the visit of the UN Atomic Energy Agency. Grossi was in the region to take stock of the situation at the nearby Zaporizhizhia nuclear power plant, which Russia took control of last year.

Heavy fighting around the facility, the largest in Europe, has put the facility and the entire region at significant risk. At his meeting with Zelenskyj on Monday, Grossi said the situation was not improving.

Grossi has called for a “safe zone” around the plant but failed to find terms that would satisfy both Ukraine and Russia. Grossi told the AP Tuesday he believes a deal is “close.” Zelenskyy, however, who opposes any plan that would legitimize Russia’s control of the plant, said he was less optimistic a deal was near. “I don’t feel it today,” he said.


The longest battle of the war rages on in the eastern city of Bakhmut, where Ukrainian and Russian forces engaged in bitter conflict for seven months.

Some Western military analysts have questioned why Ukraine is willing to suffer so many casualties to defend territory, arguing that the city has no strategic importance. Zelenskyy argued differently, saying that any loss in the war will give Russia an opening. He predicted that if Russia defeats Ukraine at Bakhmut, Putin will set out to “sell” a victory to the international community.

“If he feels some blood, smells that we are weak, he will push, push, push,” said Zelenskyy, adding that the pressure would come not only from the international community but also from within his own country.

“Our society will feel tired,” he said. “Our society will push me to compromise with them.”

Zelenskyy recently traveled near Bakhmut to boost morale of troops fighting in the hard-hit city.


Western sanctions against Russia do not go far enough, said Zelensky, who called for more far-reaching measures against Putin’s inner circle.

More than 30 countries, representing more than half of the world economy, have imposed sanctions on Russia, including price caps on Russian oil and restrictions on access to global financial transactions. The West has also directly sanctioned some 2,000 Russian companies, government officials, oligarchs and their families. According to a recent US Treasury Department report, more than $58 billion worth of sanctioned Russian assets have been blocked or frozen worldwide.

Zelenskyy said more should be done to attack Putin’s trailblazers, who “need to know they’re going to lose all their money… all their real estate in Europe or in the world, their yachts anywhere.”


Most of Zelenskyy’s trips in Ukraine are made by train. There are few other options: commercial air travel has ceased and the sprawl of Ukraine and the unpredictability of life in a war-torn country make road travel arduous.

However, the state railway system has remained remarkably stable throughout the war, largely unaffected by the constant barrage of Russian missiles. One notable exception: the bombing of the crowded Kramatorsk train station in April 2022, which killed dozens.

Although Zelenskyy travels on a train that is intended for him and his delegation, he can hardly be distinguished from the blue and yellow trains that carry other people and goods across the country. Most Ukrainians barely looked up to notice Zelenskyy’s train as it passed through rural towns, past scenic fields and the occasional bombed-out building or bridge.


AP writer Karl Ritter in Kiev, Ukraine contributed to this report.

Source : news.yahoo.com

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