Ukraine President Zelenskyy says a win in Bakhmut could determine how the war ends
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy took his first extensive trip with a news organization this week since Russia invaded the country in 2022. He traveled by train with The Associated Press from the southeastern city of Zaporizhzhia to Kyiv.
Here are some of the main takeaways from his trip with the AP.
The fight for control over Bakmut
One of the most important takeaways from the conversations was centered around the fight for the city of Bakhmut. Zelenskyy argued that if Ukraine loses that battlefront, that it would lead to negotiations with Russia that would be highly unfavorable for Ukraine.
“If he will feel some blood — smell that we are weak — he will push, push, push,” Zelenskyy told the AP. If Russia took over the region, Zelenskyy says Russian President Vladimir Putin would “sell the victory to the West, to his society, to China, to Iran.”
U.S. Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken also believes calling a cease-fire in Ukraine would allow Russia to “consolidate the territory it has illegally seized,” The Washington Post reported.
“We all know that for peace to be just, it must uphold the principles at the heart of the UN Charter: sovereignty, territorial integrity, independence,” Blinken said in a statement Tuesday. “And for peace to be durable, it must ensure that Russia can’t simply rest and refit its troops, and then relaunch the war at a time more advantageous to it.”
Since the Russian invasion, Ukraine’s military forces have fought back against Russian forces — in the fall, they even gained back some territories Russia initially captured when the war started. The country has also managed to maintain control of the capital, Kyiv.
Zelenskyy calls for Western powers to follow through on weapons promises
Another concern for Zelenskyy is keeping morale and motivation up for Ukrainians to continue fighting back. He told the AP that one thing that could help with that is Western countries following through with promises of providing weapons to the country.
Western nations, including in large part the U.S., have provided funding, ammunition and weaponry to Ukrainian forces, but the U.S. has yet to provide the Patriot missile battery. “The Patriot would be the most advanced surface-to-air missile system the West has provided to Ukraine,” the AP reported.
Zelenskyy invites Xi Jinping to enter talks with Ukraine
Zelenskyy also invited Chinese top leader Xi Jinping to meet with him and discuss possibilities for peace, according to CNN. The invitation comes after a meeting took place last week between Putin and Xi. The visits appeared “to strengthen ties” between Russia and China, as reported by the Deseret News. China has declared itself a neutral broker during the conflict, but the top leader has also failed to decry the invasion by Russia.