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Ukraine’s Zelensky: Any Russian victory could be perilous

NNA - Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy warned Tuesday that unless his nation wins a drawn-out battle in a key eastern city, Russia could begin building international support for a deal that could require Ukraine to make unacceptable compromises. He also invited the leader of China, long aligned with Russia, to visit.

If Bakhmut fell to Russian forces, their president, Vladimir Putin, would “sell this victory to the West, to his society, to China, to Iran,” Zelenskyy said in an exclusive interview with The Associated Press.

“If he will feel some blood — smell that we are weak — he will push, push, push,” Zelenskyy said in English, which he used for virtually all of the interview.

The leader spoke to the AP aboard a train shuttling him across Ukraine, to cities near some of the fiercest fighting and others where his country’s forces have successfully repelled Russia’s invasion. The AP is the first news organization to travel extensively with Zelenskyy since the war began just over a year ago.

Since then, Ukraine — backed by much of the West — has surprised the world with the strength of its resistance against the larger, better-equipped Russian military. Ukrainian forces have held their capital, Kyiv, and pushed Russia back from other strategically important areas. 

But as the war enters its second year, Zelenskyy finds himself focused on keeping motivation high in both his military and the general Ukrainian population — particularly the millions who have fled abroad and those living in relative comfort and security far from the front lines.

Zelenskyy is also well aware that his country’s success has been in great part due to waves of international military support, particularly from the United States and Western Europe. But some in the United States — including Republican Donald Trump, the former American president and current 2024 candidate — have questioned whether Washington should continue to supply Ukraine with billions of dollars in military aid. 

Trump’s likely Republican rival, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, also suggested that defending Ukraine in a “territorial dispute” with Russia was not a significant U.S. national security priority. He later walked that statement backafter facing criticism from other corners of the GOP.--AP

 

 

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