Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky contested Saturday that the war between his country and Russia was at an “impasse”, also denying any pressure from Western countries to begin negotiations with Russia.
“Time has passed today and people are tired (…) But we are not at an impasse,” assured Mr. Zelensky during a press conference in Kiev with the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, visiting Ukraine to discuss EU enlargement.
Volodymyr Zelensky's comments come after a senior Ukrainian commander said this week that both armies , Russian and Ukrainian, found themselves trapped in a war of attrition and positions.
Since June, Ukraine has been leading a slow counter-offensive to try to liberate the occupied territories in the East and South. But so far, progress has been very limited. The front line, more than 1,000 km long, has barely moved for almost a year and the liberation of the city of Kherson in November 2022.
The Kremlin also assured Thursday that the conflict in Ukraine was not at an “impasse”, contesting the remarks of the commander-in-chief of the Ukrainian army, Valery Zaluzhny, in an interview with The Economist.
“Just like during the First World War, we have reached a technological level such that we find ourselves in an impasse,” Mr. Zalouzhny told the British weekly. “There will probably not be a magnificent and profound breakthrough “, he added.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky (D) and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen during a press conference on November 4, 2023 in Kiev © AFP – Anatolii STEPANOV
The Ukrainian president also rejected the idea of Western countries putting pressure on Kiev to start negotiations with Russia.
“No one among our partners is putting pressure on us to sit down with Russia, to let's talk and give him something,” he said.
He admitted that the conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas had “diverted attention” from the war between Ukraine and Russia.
“We have already found ourselves in very difficult situations when there was almost no focus on Ukraine,” Mr. Zelensky noted, adding “I am absolutely sure that we will meet this challenge.”
Ukraine's supporters, particularly the United States, repeat that they will provide military and financial aid to Kiev until Russia is defeated.
– “Confident” –< /p>
The President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen was in Kiev on Saturday to discuss the enlargement of the European Union, her sixth visit to Ukraine since the start of the Russian invasion in February 2022.< /p>
In June 2022, the EU granted candidate status to Ukraine, a few months after the start of the Russian invasion, as well as to Moldova.
“You have taken many steps,” Ursula von der Leyen told Mr Zelensky. “You have reformed your justice system. You have reduced the power of oligarchs. You have tackled money laundering and many other things,” she noted.
< img class="aligncenter" src="/wp-content/uploads/2023/11/fb2ababfc55663fa326383b391403287.jpg" alt="For Zelensky, the war with Russia is not at an "impasse" />
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky during a press conference on November 4, 2023 in Kiev © AFP – Anatolii STEPANOV
“We must never forget that you are waging an existential war while profoundly reforming your country”, she underlined, saying she was “confident” that Ukraine would progress in the accession process when these reforms were implemented.
The Commission must submit its report on November 8 status of progress made by Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia, and decide on whether or not to open accession negotiations, before the Twenty-Seven take up the issue at a summit in Brussels in mid-December.
At the same time, the EU plans a long-term aid package to support Ukraine of 50 billion euros, with 33 billion euros in loans and 17 billion euros in subsidies – even if the revision of the European budget to finance it causes strong divisions between Member States.
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