Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in an interview on the third anniversary of his inauguration that Ukraine’s bloody war to win against a Russian invasion would be won with difficulty through diplomacy.
“We did not start this war. But we have to finish it,” he said in the hour-long broadcast that was recorded on Friday and released on Saturday.
“Victory will be bloody in battle. But the end will be in diplomacy. We want everything back. Russia does not want to give up anything.”
The end of a fierce war can only be reached at the “negotiating table,” he added.
Zelensky also applauded his own military for breaking down the “backbone” of Vladimir Putin’s army, which he described through his state TV appearance as “one of the most powerful armies in the world.”
“We have already done that. Including the psychological aspect,” he went on to add. But let’s not forget that our soldiers all want to live.”
An interview with the president’s wife, Ukraine’s first lady, Olena Zelenska, was included in the historic wartime broadcast, where she declared that the brutal aggression had not changed her husband.
“I can’t say he’s changed,” she said. Just as he was a reliable husband and man, so was he.”
“Like all Ukrainian families, our family is torn right now. We haven’t seen each other for two and a half months and we only talked on the phone. Thank you for this opportunity because we are now spending time together on TV,” Zelenska added.
The interview was broadcast in response to reports by local officials that Russia had launched a massive attack to seize the last remaining Ukrainian territory from Luhansk.
Luhansk, located in southeastern Ukraine, is one of two regions along with Donetsk that Moscow has declared an independent state.
In a social media post this morning, Luhansk region governor Serhi Gaidai said Russia is trying to destroy the city of Sevedonetsk and that battles are taking place outside the city.
“The attacks go on from morning to evening and into the night,” he said in a video post on the Telegram messaging app.
He added: “The enemy’s plan is to besiege or set fire to this area, as they did in Popasna. This is the rough fate of the Luhansk region. It is to stop the Russians from going any further.”
Occupying the Luhansk and Donetsk regions could claim victory after Moscow announced last month that this was the target. Russia changed its plans after unsuccessful capture of Kyiv.
Mathieu Bullegg, an expert at the Chatham House think tank in London, said: “This is going to be a major dispute over the next few weeks.” “And that will depend on how effectively they conquer the lands of Sebedonetsk and beyond.”
Relatives and relatives of Ukrainian fighters guarding the Azovstal Works have expressed concern over the fate of their families after they were ordered to evacuate as eastern Ukraine realized Russia’s brutal offensive.
At a press conference in Istanbul, Turkey, Natalia Zaritzka, the wife of the surrendered fighter Mariupol, said she had not had contact with her husband except for ten minutes of exchanging messages via Telegram two days ago.
“So my husband sent me a message two days ago and the situation was really tough and terrible, and my husband is on his way from hell to another hell, from the Azofsthal Steel Mill to the prison, to the captivity,” she said.
Zarytska also said that she believes her husband is still alive and that one day he will return home.
The group, made up of three wives and the mother of an Azovstal warrior, visited Turkey this week to ask the state help to ensure the safety of the warriors at the steel plant.
Elsewhere, Russia’s state-owned energy company Gazprom confirmed on Saturday that it had cut gas exports to neighboring Finland following an attempt to join the NATO military alliance.
Earlier, Finnish system operator Gasgrid Finland said that “gas imports through the Ematra entry point have been suspended”.
This comes after Gazprom Export demanded that European countries pay Russia’s gas supply costs to European countries due to Russia’s sanctions against Russia’s invasion of Russia. Finland rejected this.
Finland used mainly Russian gas, but a small share of its total energy consumption.
Gasum has already said it will meet demand through its Balticconnector pipelines in Estonia and Finland.
Commenting on the move in Russia, Mika Wiljanen, the company’s chief executive, said:
“However, we have prepared carefully for this situation, and if there are no disruptions to the gas transmission network, we will be able to supply gas to all our customers in the next few months.”
It comes after US President Joe Biden signed a bill to provide nearly $40 billion (£32 billion) to Ukraine in an effort to bolster military support for a Russian invasion, the White House said.
The new legislation will provide $20 billion in military aid to continue to supply advanced weapons used to thwart Russia’s advance.
There is also $8 billion in general economic aid, $5 billion to address global food shortages that could be caused by the collapse of Ukraine’s agriculture, and more than $1 billion to help refugees.
But reports of America’s staggering aid package have been somewhat dulled by Russia’s announcement of a ban on entry to 963 Americans, including President Joe Biden, Secretary of State Anthony Blinken and CIA Director William Burns.