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Ukraine’s First Lady: Territorial concessions do not end hostilities

Ukraine’s first lady Zelenska said that giving in to territory would mean giving in to freedom and could not get Russia to stop its military campaign.

“You can’t give in to parts of the territory because that is tantamount to giving in to freedom,” Ukraine’s First Lady Olena Zelenska said in an interview with ABCis broadcast today.

She also repeated her husband’s view that the Donbass region, in eastern Ukraine, where Russia is focusing on gaining control, will again belong to Ukraine.

“Even if we give in to our territory, they will not stop there. They will continue to push, launch more attacks on our territory,” Zelenska stressed.

Earlier this week, former US secretary of state Henry Kissinger suggested during a conference at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, that Ukraine should make territorial concessions to end hostilities. He also said that Western countries should remember Russia’s importance to Europe.

Ukraine's First Lady Olena Zelenska attends an event in Kiev in December 2021.  Photo: Reuters.

Ukraine’s First Lady Olena Zelenska attends an event in Kiev in December 2021. Image: Reuters.

Ukraine’s First Lady’s comments come as fighting rages in the east of the country. Russian forces currently control 80% of the city of Severodonetsk in the Lugansk province and are increasing their offensive momentum.

Severodonetsk is one of the important urban centers in the goal of controlling the entire Lugansk region of Russia. If Russia controls this city, it will have an important springboard to push west and target Kramatorsk, where Ukraine’s Donbass regional military command is located.

The President of the Council of the Russian Federation (Russia’s upper house of parliament) Valentina Matviyenko said on May 31 that the country was ready to negotiate with Ukraine to sign agreements towards peace, but “did not receive a response from Kiev”.

Russia and Ukraine blame each other after peace talks stalled since late March. Russia said earlier last month that Ukraine was not willing to continue peace talks, while officials in Kiev accused Moscow of being the one causing the talks to fall short.

The Kremlin said on June 1 that it did not rule out the possibility of holding a summit between President Vladimir Putin and his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky, but stressed that such a meeting must be carefully prepared.

Huyen Le (Follow ABC)

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