Zelenskyy accuses Russia of war crimes, sees no early end to war

NO EARLY END TO WAR

Friday’s interview took place in the president’s office in the heavily-guarded government district, which is now like a citadel for Zelenskyy and his advisers. Sandbags were piled up in the windows of the building’s labyrinthine, dimly-lit corridors.

An air raid siren – used to warn of the danger of incoming missiles – sounded in Kyiv shortly before the interview.

Zelenskyy, who visited Izium on Wednesday, repeated his appeal for Western countries and others to step up weapons supplies to Ukraine.

“We would want more help from Turkey, We would want more help from South Korea. More help from the Arab world. From Asia,” he said.

Zelenskyy also cited “certain psychological barriers” in Germany to supplying military equipment because of its Nazi past but said such supplies were vital for Ukraine to defend itself against what he called Russian “fascism”. He has often accused Berlin of dragging its feet over providing arms.

He lauded Ukraine’s rapid counter-offensive but played down any suggestion that the war was entering some kind of end game. “It’s early to talk about an end to this war,” he said.

Zelenskyy said he would only support the idea of reopening Russian ammonia exports through Ukraine, an initiative proposed by the United Nations, if Moscow handed back Ukrainian prisoners of war to Kyiv.

Speaking in Uzbekistan on Friday, Russian President Vladimir Putin brushed off Ukraine’s counter-offensive with a smile, but warned that Russia would respond more forcefully if its troops were put under further pressure.

Zelenskyy said he had been convinced that foreign weapons supplies to Ukraine would have fallen if Kyiv had not launched its counter-offensive and that the territorial gains would impress other countries.

“I think this is a very important step that influenced, or will influence, the decisions of certain other countries,” he said.

Asked on the 205th day of the war if he ever got a chance to relax, Zelenskyy said: “I’d really want the Russians to relax”.