The Ukrainian leader says the war between Israel and Hamas has drawn attention away from them, adding that is ‘Russia’s goal’.
President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has denied that Ukraine’s war with Russia had reached a “stalemate”, pushing back at suggestions Western leaders were lobbying for peace talks.
The sprawling front line between the two warring sides has barely moved in almost a year, with one senior Ukrainian official warning this week that the conflict was deadlocked.
“Time has passed, people are tired … But this is not a stalemate,” Zelenskyy told a news conference on Saturday in Kyiv with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.
The Ukrainian leader also rejected the idea that Western countries were putting pressure on Kyiv to enter negotiations with Russia, amid reports US and EU officials had discussed what such talks would entail.
“No one among our partners is pressuring us to sit down with Russia, talk to it, and give it something,” he said.
Such pressure existed before Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 and at the beginning of the fighting, but “today, none of the EU leaders or the US are putting pressure on me to sit down with Russia, negotiate and give Russia anything. There will be no such thing,” he added.
Zelenskyy expressed irritation at media reports about pressure to negotiate, saying he had no idea where those claims came from. At the same time, he emphasised that he would always act in accordance with the will of the Ukrainian people.
With the war now in its 20th month and Ukraine struggling to gain ground in its counteroffensive, Zelenskyy has routinely met Western leaders in a bid to stave off fatigue with the conflict.
Zelenskyy said the war between Israel and Hamas had also drawn attention away from Ukraine, and said that this was “Russia’s goal”.
“Of course, it’s clear that the war in the Middle East, this conflict, is taking away the focus,” Zelenskyy said.
“We have already been in very difficult situations when there was almost no focus on Ukraine,” he said, but added, “I am absolutely sure we will overcome this challenge.”
Ukraine’s backers, including the United States, have maintained they are ready to support Kyiv with military and financial support for as long as it takes to defeat Russia.