The press release issued by the President of Ukraine on 5 April 2022.
President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy believes that the issue of the temporarily occupied territories of Donbas and Crimea should not be tied to the negotiation process with Russia to end the war and withdraw Russian troops from the territories of our state where they entered starting from February 24. This was stated by the President in an interview to the Ukrainian media.
He is convinced that resolving all issues in a package and thus ending the war with Russia is difficult and unlikely. Especially when there are tanks on our territory, rockets hit our cities, when there are difficult situations in blocked cities, such as Mariupol.
“Russia has its own vision of Donbas, and Ukraine has its own. So I had a simple suggestion. I believe that we will not be able to agree on all points at once. This is impossible, even if we have negotiations,” Volodymyr Zelenskyy said.
Responding to calls for the military liberation of all temporarily occupied territories, the President stressed that one of the most powerful groups of Ukrainian troops are fighting in Donbas, in the Joint Forces Operation area. They oppose the enemy, which significantly outnumbers them. And if you give them the command to go on the offensive now, it will cost thousands of lives.
“Our state needs a strong army. And if we want to lose the most powerful, most experienced people because “I want it now” we must understand that they will return to us (enemy forces – ed.), and not in two or three years, but in the same month. All the military know and think about it. This is a very serious story,” he explained.
Volodymyr Zelenskyy noted that there is indeed a concentration of Russian troops in Donbas, and Ukraine is well aware of the goal and possible plans of the Russian Federation.
“Donbas, and the south of Ukraine, and the corridor to Crimea, and the Kherson region, and the Zaporizhzhia region… We basically understand what they are doing. In order for them to succeed, they will fight for Donbas. And Mariupol is a life for us, a city, and for them it is a “medal” that they want to hang on their chests,” he said.
The President noted that today the deoccupation of Mariupol by military means is very difficult. And its defenders, who are fighting in extremely difficult conditions, know this very well.
“We are in touch almost every day. It is difficult for them. They are very strong. It’s true. And it is difficult for different people in different ways. There are their wounded or dead brothers-in-arms. They would like their parents to receive the bodies of the dead, and they would like us to have an opportunity to take out the wounded,” Volodymyr Zelenskyy said.
According to him, there is an agreement on this issue with Turkey, which is ready to transport the wounded and killed in Mariupol from Berdyansk.
“We have all the infrastructure ready to take out the wounded and dead. We are waiting for Putin’s approval. I talked to Erdoğan, Erdoğan talks to him. And now this moment depends on him. If we succeed, we will see the result in the coming days. If it fails, we will know for sure that the President of the Russian Federation personally does not give such an opportunity. Although everyone is putting pressure from different sides, because it is considered a humanitarian step,” Volodymyr Zelenskyy said.
The Head of State also rejected the possibility of returning the occupied Crimea by force. The President explained that Ukraine’s proposals in negotiations with Russia on Crimea do not mean that the topic of deoccupation of the peninsula will not be raised for 10-15 years. On the contrary, according to him, the agreement should stipulate that during this period the parties must resolve the issue of Crimea through diplomacy.
“The proposed format is not to solve it now, but to solve it at least tomorrow, during this period. I think this is not a bad decision. But I think so now. Today, if there were such agreements on Crimea, I believe this would be a victory for Ukraine,” the President said.