Ukrainian leader says he is still committed to pressing for peace, renewed his plea for more weapons.Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says he is committed to pressing for peace despite Russian attacks on civilians and he renewed his plea for more weapons ahead of an expected surge in fighting in the country’s east.Zelenskyy made the comments a day after at least 52 people were killed in an attack on a train station in the eastern city of Kramatorsk, and as evidence of civilian killings came to light after Russian troops failed to seize the capital Kyiv where he has hunkered down.
“No one wants to negotiate with a person or people who tortured this nation. It’s all understandable. And as a man, as a father, I understand this very well,” Zelenskyy said in an interview with The Associated Press. “We don’t want to lose opportunities, if we have them, for a diplomatic solution.”
Wearing the olive drab that has marked his transformation into a wartime leader, he looked visibly exhausted yet animated by a drive to persevere.
He spoke from inside the presidential office complex, where windows and hallways are protected by towers of sandbags and heavily armed soldiers.
“We have to fight, but fight for life. You can’t fight for dust when there is nothing and no people. That’s why it is important to stop this war,” Zelenskyy said.
Russian troops that withdrew from northern Ukraine are now regrouping for what is expected to be an intensified push to retake the eastern Donbas region, including the besieged port city of Mariupol that Ukrainian fighters are striving to defend.
The president said those defenders are tying up “a big part of the enemy forces”, characterising the battle to hold Mariupol as “the heart of the war” right now.
Zelenskyy said he is confident Ukrainians would accept peace despite the horrors they have witnessed in the more than six-week-long war.
Those included gruesome images of bodies of civilians found in yards, parks and city squares and buried in mass graves in the Kyiv suburb of Bucha after Russian troops withdrew.