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22 Nov, 2023 12:58

Ukraine’s stalled counteroffensive sending ‘bad message’ – Zelensky

Moscow has estimated Kiev’s losses in November alone at more than 13,700 troops
Ukraine’s stalled counteroffensive sending ‘bad message’ – Zelensky

Ukraine’s failure to achieve significant battlefield success against Russia is spreading pessimism to Kiev’s Western backers, President Vladimir Zelensky admitted in an interview with Fox News aired on Tuesday.

Asked to comment on how he believes Ukraine’s struggling counteroffensive is being perceived outside the country, the leader conceded that “this is not a good message” and “it is difficult for us.” He insisted, however, that the Ukrainian population is “staying strong.”

Zelensky went on to stress that military success was most crucial for Ukraine itself, rather than its foreign backers, and criticized the idea that the conflict with Moscow was a “movie” or “magic each day.” 

The Ukrainian leader also stated that he is ready to sit down with Donald Trump to discuss the former US president’s plan to end the hostilities. Trump has repeatedly claimed he would need just 24 hours to resolve the conflict if reelected in 2024. However, Trump recently declined Zelensky’s invitation to visit Ukraine, pointing to a potential “conflict of interest” given that US foreign policy is currently determined by the administration of Joe Biden.

“He can share it [peace plan] with me. Yes, we can stop this war if we give Russia Donbass and Crimea. To my mind, our country will not be ready for such a peace plan,” Zelensky said. Crimea overwhelmingly voted to join Russia in a referendum in 2014 after a Western-backed coup in Kiev, while four former Ukrainian regions opted to follow suit in the autumn of 2022.

Ukraine launched its much-heralded counteroffensive in early June, but has failed to make any significant progress despite being reinforced with a significant amount of NATO weaponry. On Tuesday, Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu said Kiev had suffered “colossal” losses in November, estimating them at more than 13,700 troops. That figure added to the tally Shoigu gave last month, when he claimed Kiev had lost more than 90,000 troops since the start of its offensive.

Earlier this month, Ukraine’s top army commander, Valery Zaluzhny, described the battlefield situation as “a stalemate,” an assessment that Zelensky has rejected. Amid this backdrop, NBC recently reported that Western officials were in talks with Kiev to see whether it would consider concessions to Russia to end the conflict. According to the broadcaster, some of Ukraine’s backers are increasingly worried that it is “running out of forces.” 

While Russia has kept the door open to talks with Kiev, Ukrainian officials have consistently rejected any diplomatic engagement. Ukrainian security chief Aleksey Danilov insisted on Monday that his country intends to “fight to the end.”

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