Zelensky: Stalemate in Ukraine’s war with Russia ‘not an option for us’

Ukrainian President Voldymyr Zelensky on Tuesday said a stalemate in the war with Russia was “not an option,” adding despite facing an uphill climb “victory must be achieved on the battlefield.”

In a 30-minute interview with the Financial Times, Zelensky said the ultimate goal for Ukraine was to beat back Russian forces and reclaim full control over the country.

“Stalemate is not an option for us — we cannot just go on living in this position and hostilities,” Zelensky told Financial Times editor Roula Khalaf. “The opinion of most of our people is [the goal of] regaining all of our territories, restoring our territorial integrity and the inviable sovereignty of Ukraine.

“This is not just some shallow ranting on my part,” Zelensky added. “It will be a great victory for the people of Ukraine.”

Zelensky has previously said Ukraine will continue to fight until his country has regained its complete independence and pushed Russian forces out.

The Ukrainian president doubled down on the position last month after former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger said Ukraine should cede some territory and return to the status quo before the Feb. 24 invasion in the name of peace.

Although western allies have been largely united in supporting Ukraine, some nations have begun to splinter on how to end the war in Ukraine. French President Emmanuel Macron drew condemnation after he suggested the West should not “humiliate” Russian President Vladimir Putin and instead give him an “exit ramp” out of the war.

Zelensky told the Financial Times that Ukraine “did not need any alternative” suggested by other world leaders.

“I did not really understand. What is humiliating Russia? Humiliating what?” Zelensky said. “Are we talking about the fact that for eight years they have been killing Ukrainians?”

Ukrainian troops have fought against Russian-backed separatist forces since 2014 in the Luhansk and Donestk regions, both of which Putin declared independent before moving troops into Ukraine in the February invasion.

After more than 100 days of war, Russia has taken about 20 percent of all territory in Ukraine, although Russian troops retreated from areas around the capitol region of Kyiv and also sustained heavy losses.

Heavy fighting continues in the Donbas, the eastern region of the country where Russian forces are focused on seizing the Luhansk and Donestk regions.

Negotiations between Russia and Ukraine have made little progress toward peace and mostly stalled after atrocities in the cities of Bucha and Mariupol.

Zelensky on Tuesday did not say what his conditions would be but told the Financial Times he was ready to talk with Putin.

“I’m still determined that any war should be ended at the negotiation table,” he said.