Zelensky: Russia killing Ukrainian forces in Mariupol could ‘put an end to any format of negotiations’
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky warned in an interview with Ukrainian media on Saturday that negotiations could come to an end if Moscow kills the country’s remaining forces in the besieged city of Mariupol.
“The destruction of all our guys in Mariupol — what they are doing now — can put an end to any format of negotiations. I think it is their big mistake to say that they really want to end the war,” Zelensky said.
The Ukrainian president also noted that his country would be less likely to negotiate with Russia if Moscow continued to commit war crimes against Ukrainian civilians and soldiers, according to the Presidential Office of Ukraine.
“The stronger we are, the better the outcome of these talks will be. The more Borodianka-like cases appear, there will be no chance that negotiations will be held actually,” Zelensky said in his interview, referring to a town near Kyiv that was occupied for weeks by Russian forces.
The Ukrainian president said last week that the destruction uncovered in Borodianka was “much more horrific” even than the Russian atrocities reported in nearby Bucha.
Zelensky also noted on Saturday that the status of Crimea and the Donbas region needed to be discussed between Ukraine and Russia, but he said it is difficult to address those issues when Russia is actively trying to take Ukrainian territory.
“I think we need to talk about it,” Zelensky said of the areas’ statuses. “And find a model that may not give an answer to what to do with it today, but it will definitely allow everyone to become sober. At least them. When the fighting is over and the war is over, we can think of diplomacy.”
“And they want to resolve issues diplomatically when there is a war. This is very difficult. And that’s why they want to take away some of our territory, to occupy more to put pressure,” he continued. “Then it’s not about diplomacy. And why do we meet? Why should I meet if they want to occupy the whole territory?”
The development comes as the Russian defense ministry claimed in a statement on Saturday that, beyond a Ukrainian group of fighters still left, “the entire urban area of Mariupol is completely cleared.”
Pavlo Kyrylenko, governor of the Donetsk region, painted a grim picture of the situation in Mariupol in an interview with CNN on Friday, saying that the besieged port city “has been wiped off the face of the earth by the Russian Federation.”