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19 Dec, 2023 21:12

No NATO invite, no elections, failed counteroffensive: Key quotes from Zelensky’s press conference

The Ukrainian president has held a major Q&A session to address challenges the country is facing
No NATO invite, no elections, failed counteroffensive: Key quotes from Zelensky’s press conference

Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky held an extensive session with select reporters on Tuesday, answering questions, providing excuses for the lack of tangible progress in the conflict with Russia, and addressing some of the country’s biggest challenges.

The press conference, which appeared to somewhat mimic the Q&A sessions hosted annually by Russian President Vladimir Putin, revolved around assorted issues, including Ukraine’s failed counteroffensive, mobilization, NATO prospects, and other topics.

On being lost in translation

“Life has changed so much, I now need a translator from Russian.”

On why the counteroffensive failed & new goals

“I cannot tell you about goals. We’ve had difficulties in the south precisely because everyone was talking about what our goals were. For months everyone was talking about where we were going, what was best. It’s okay, it’s warm there in the south, winter comes late, there are enough weapons. It doesn’t work that way with Russia, which has more weapons.”

On sending more people to fight

“[The military] proposed mobilizing an additional 450–500 thousand people … Regarding people, I need something more specific – what will happen to a million-strong Ukrainian army? Very strong, I believe.”

“We cannot lose our stability and potential, but we need justice. And regarding finances, mobilization in this format will cost Ukraine an additional 500 billion hryvnias ($13.4 billion).”

On NATO aspirations

“Let’s imagine that part of Ukraine will be in NATO. These are high risks ... This means that [Putin] will enter and there will be a war with NATO.”

“Is partial accession to NATO even possible? We are not invited to NATO, and signals on the topic of partial participation are nonsense, we have never received such an offer from partners, I can’t imagine how this could happen.”

On having faith

“I’m confident the US will not betray us.”

On his tanking popularity

“As for supporting me as president, I said that I am honored to be president. And then people decide, people see how I work, how I serve Ukraine. If you don’t like it, well, it’s understandable. It’ll be the choice of Ukrainians, that’s fine.”

On how to get Ukrainian refugees back

“I believe that the majority will return as soon as our air defenses become more powerful. A lot of people will return. I don’t know whether it will be a majority. Hard to tell … The second thing that will have an impact is a decrease in support from European countries. European countries and the US will support those for whom it is very difficult. But for those who find employment, I am sure they will have a different level of support. This does not apply to supporting Ukraine and Ukrainians who are within our state. The situation here will be stable.”

On canceling elections

“I cannot dissolve the [country’s parliament] because I cannot hold elections during wartime. I live by the law.”