Zelenskyy: War with Russia is not a stalemate

Efrem Lukatsky/AP
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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Sunday rejected the premise that the war with Russia has reached a stalemate.

“I believe that today, indeed, the situation is difficult, I don’t think this is a stalemate,” Zelenskyy told NBC’s Kristen Welker on “Meet The Press,” through a translator.. … “They thought that they would checkmate us, but this didn't happen.”

Zelenskyy’s comments contradict a top Ukrainian general, who told The Economist that “Just like in the First World War, we have reached the level of technology that puts us into a stalemate.”

“There will most likely be no deep and beautiful breakthrough," Gen. Valery Zaluzhnyy said.

Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told POLITICO on Thursday that Zalzuhnyy’s words were “consistent with what we’ve been informed,” and “there was hope that they would make more gains” during Ukraine's ongoing counteroffensive.

But Zelenskyy pushed back on that in his wide-ranging interview with Welker.

He said the Ukrainian military is “coming up with different plans” but is aware those plans are “impossible to do without weapons, without relevant, proper weapons. It's a fact.”

The question of whether the war has reached a stalemate comes as Congress is debating sending more military aid to Ukraine, which is a priority of both Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. They hope to loop Ukraine funding into a broader deal that encompasses Israel, Taiwan and the U.S. border with Mexico, but they have faced opposition from the House, which on Thursday passed a $14.5 billion standalone Israel aid bill.

Zelenskyy ended the interview with a simple, partially bleeped reason that Ukraine continues to fight: “We are not ready to give our freedom to this f—ing terrorist, Putin. That's it. That's why we are fighting. That's it.”