A total war with neighboring Russia is the worst thing that could happen, but unfortunately there is a possibility, said today Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, noting that he wants to have a meaningful meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Asked at a summit of the Yalta European Strategy Forum (YES) if a full-fledged war could really take place with Russia, which annexed the Crimean peninsula from Ukraine in 2014 and supports pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine. Zelensky replied: “I think he can.”
“It is the worst thing that could happen, but unfortunately there is a possibility,” he said, speaking in Ukrainian.
According to Kiev, 14,000 people have been killed in the conflict in eastern Ukraine since 2014.
Zelensky noted that relations with the United States have improved, but regretted that Ukraine did not receive a clear response to its bid to join NATO – a move that is likely to anger Moscow.
“They did not (…) have a clear position on Ukraine’s accession to NATO,” he said. “Ukraine has been ready for a long time.”
A refusal to accept Ukraine would weaken NATO, he added.
Tensions between Kiev and Moscow escalated earlier this year as clashes in eastern Ukraine escalated and Russia rallied more troops near the border.
Moscow has accused Ukraine of losing interest in peace talks, while Zelensky has been pushing in vain for a meeting with Putin in the conflict zone.
“I honestly do not have time to think about him,” Zelensky said today.
“I am more interested in whether we can really have a meaningful meeting, not to make statements, as it does with some states,” he added.
“It seems to me that today (…) they do not find it meaningful to solve issues. “To end the war and resolve conflict issues quickly – they do not want that,” he said.