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22 May, 2024 09:42

Russia is not isolated – Zelensky

The West is “keeping the door slightly ajar” despite arming Kiev and squeezing Moscow’s economy, the Ukrainian president has claimed
Russia is not isolated – Zelensky

Western countries have failed to pressure Russia into ending the Ukraine conflict because they are reluctant to fully sever ties with Moscow, Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky has claimed.

In an interview with the New York Times on Tuesday, Zelensky rebuked the West for what he called a fear of escalation with Russia. This is at the heart of Western reluctance to greenlight Ukrainian strikes deep inside Russia with foreign-made weapons, the leader said.

“It’s like sanctions. They talk about the risk of economic escalation with Russia. This shows that our partners are afraid, in principle, of completely severed relations with the Russian Federation,” Zelensky complained.

He went on to say that while the West has achieved an exodus of foreign companies from Russia and has frozen Moscow’s sovereign assets in its jurisdiction, it has refrained from more decisive measures. “They do not transfer this money to Ukraine. Why?... Because it would mean a total rupture of economic relations with the Russian Federation.” 

The same goes for closing Western diplomatic missions in Russia and sending Moscow’s diplomats home, the president argued. “Therefore, we cannot say that we have pressured Russia diplomatically or economically through sanctions… Isolation has not occurred.”

There are similar issues regarding the use of Western weapons, Zelensky claimed, asking: “Why can’t Ukraine be given the ability to use them? You will be told that it’s escalation... Everyone keeps the door slightly ajar with Russia.” 

Zelensky has already criticized the West for failing to suppress Russia on the global stage, suggesting last November that Moscow would not withdraw from territories claimed by Ukraine unless it is properly pressured by the US and China.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said in February that all Western attempts to turn Russia into a pariah had failed, but acknowledged that pressure on Moscow’s partners would only increase. He also vowed that Russia would continue to cooperate with countries in the Global South and East, which he said were seeking to protect their right to determine their political course.

Earlier this month, Russian President Vladimir Putin traveled to China to meet President Xi Jinping, touting burgeoning economic ties between the two powers, especially in the energy sector. Putin said that 90% of Russia-China transactions are carried out in national currencies, while trade turnover had reached a record $240 billion.