Zelensky knocks Russian plans to put captured Ukrainians on trial
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Monday said negotiations would be “impossible” with Russia if it holds a trial for captured defenders from Mariupol.
Ukraine’s military intelligence arm warned on Friday in a Telegram post that Russia has been remodeling the Mariupol Chamber Philharmonic and installing iron cages in the building for a trial on Wednesday, which marks Ukraine’s independence day and six months since the war began.
“If this despicable show trial takes place, if our people are brought into this scenery in violation of all agreements, all international rules, if there is abuse … this will be the line beyond which any negotiations are impossible,” Zelensky said on Monday.
“Russia will cut itself off from the negotiations,” he continued. “There will be no more conversations. Our state has said everything.”
Zelensky added that he spoke with French President Emmanuel Macron and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan about the trial, and he also expects United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres to react.
“Everyone understands everything,” Zelensky said.
“They understand what the occupiers are doing and what it threatens,” Zelensky added. “And they understand that Ukraine will not tolerate this. It will not tolerate tormenting of people about whom only one thing can be said: they are heroes of their homeland, they defended the freedom of their people from invaders on their land.”
Mariupol, a major Ukrainian city located on the coast of the Sea of Azov, fell to Russia in May when hundreds of Ukrainian fighters abandoned the Azovstal steel plant, where they had held out for months as the final place of resistance in the city as it faced mass destruction. Many of the fighters were detained by Russian forces.
Fighting had been largely focused on Ukraine’s east in the Donbas region in recent months.
But as the war approaches its seventh month, Ukrainian forces are trying to drive Russian forces out of regions they have controlled in the country’s south, areas located just north of Crimea, which Russia annexed and began controlling in 2014.
A Russian ammunition depot exploded last week in Crimea, the second recent suspected Ukrainian attack on the peninsula. Zelensky’s government has not publicly claimed responsibility.