Espreso. Global

Zelenskyy's interview with FOX: main points

24 February, 2024 Saturday

After Volodymyr Zelenskyy's interview with Fox News, Donald Trump's supporters in the US may look at Russia's war against Ukraine from a different perspective

President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy gave an interview to Fox News, an American TV channel known for its influence on conservative audiences that generally support the likely Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.

As you know, it is Donald Trump who is currently blocking the possibility of allocating much-needed aid to Ukraine with his statements and, presumably, actions, and therefore speaking to a Trump-oriented audience is an important factor even in a situation where it is not so much this audience that influences the former American president, but rather the former president himself who influences the mood of this audience, as well as congressmen who depend on Trump's point of view in their political perspectives.

The fact of the interview is also important, as it is a response to a two-hour conversation between Russian President Vladimir Putin and American conservative TV commentator Tucker Carlson, a former Fox News host known for his support of Donald Trump.

By and large, both the viewers of Vladimir Putin's interview and the viewers of Volodymyr Zelenskyy's interview are the same audience of people who hold so-called conservative values and can form their own opinion about the course of the Russian-Ukrainian war not only from the point of view of the Russian leader, but also from the point of view of the Ukrainian leader. To be fair, Zelenskyy, unlike Vladimir Putin, who avoided talking to any journalists from the civilised world, has already met with journalists from this American channel and shared his thoughts on the reasons for Russia's attack on Ukraine and how the war will unfold in the future. However, now that Zelenskyy is talking to Americans again about what is happening in the conflict, which is now of interest to a smaller and smaller audience in the civilised world, against the backdrop of his country devastated by the Russian attack, this is an important factor in maintaining attention to the war, which will enter its third difficult year in a few hours.

In this interview, Volodymyr Zelenskyy argues that a political solution to the conflict between Russia and Ukraine will be based on the so-called Ukrainian Formula for Peace, which provides for the restoration of the territorial integrity of our country and the withdrawal of Russian troops from the occupied territory. Zelenskyy also hopes that the world's leading powers will support this formula, which is based on the primacy of international law. While many Ukrainians may be sceptical about this approach, it is important to recognise its diplomatic feasibility. Yes, of course, Russian troops can leave the occupied territories not in the event of any political agreement, but only if the Armed Forces of Ukraine are strong enough to drive Russian forces off Ukrainian soil. Of course, we should not hope for the support of all the world's leading countries either, and after the November 2024 elections in the United States, if Donald Trump wins, China can only strengthen its political and economic cooperation with the Russian Federation, as it is known that there is a much more serious and tough opponent of the Chinese leadership than the current President Joseph Biden. However, Ukraine needs to set its maximalist diplomatic stance for the future. Ukrainians need to realise a simple thing: this war will end, if we can even talk about any end to this war, which may turn out to be a long-term protracted conflict of attrition that will simply move from the current phase of a major war to a low-intensity war, and in this situation, Ukraine's position should be absolutely tough and absolutely linked to the defence of the principles of international law and its territorial integrity. The Russian political leadership, headed by Vladimir Putin, will also take such a tough, uncompromising position. Any negotiations on ending a war, especially a bloody, prolonged war that exhausts the forces of both sides and raises questions about survival, always end up on some diplomatic track that does not suit either party involved in such a war. However, if you do not set maximalist demands, you can end the war only at the level of capitulation to a greater power, and I would remind you that Ukraine is at war with one of the largest nuclear powers in the modern world. So let Ukraine's demands be obviously transparent and maximalist - this creates a certain platform for hopes that the outcome of the war will not be what the Russian state wanted to see.

Volodymyr Zelenskyy stressed that the losses of the Ukrainian army are five times less than those of the Russian army, and this may be true at least because the Russian forces started this war with an offensive in almost all areas of the front, and now, after the Ukrainian counter-offensive, they are also trying to resume their offensive to capture the entire territory of the Donetsk region, and possibly other regions of Ukraine that have already been annexed by Vladimir Putin. And of course, Russia will lose more than Ukraine in the offensive, but the issue of Ukrainian losses is important if the Ukrainian Armed Forces resume offensive actions this year or in the following years of the ongoing Russian-Ukrainian confrontation. And here, when Volodymyr Zelenskyy talks about preparing a new offensive, we must realise that at the same time we need to talk about the assistance that the West should provide to Ukraine to ensure that the Ukrainian offensive on the Russian position does not lead to critical casualties among Ukrainian servicemen, and thus raise the question of the survival of the Ukrainian nation as such. Volodymyr Zelenskyy also spoke about this, about the priority of saving the lives of Ukrainian soldiers in a war where a state with a population of 30 million is confronting 140 million of the Russian Federation with its aggressive intentions and desire to destroy both Ukraine and other former Soviet republics. These plans, as we can see, began to be actively implemented after 2022. Volodymyr Zelenskyy was unable to explain the specific reasons that led to the dismissal of the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, Valeriy Zaluzhnyi, but I think we do not expect this explanation, for the simple reason that all the circumstances surrounding the reformatting of the Ukrainian high military command were obvious to Ukrainian society and were not accompanied by explanations for the citizens of Ukraine, given that the vast majority of Ukrainians were against such a reformatting. However, the fact that Western journalists are now interested in the resignation of Valeriy Zaluzhnyi as the main topic of their conversations not only with the Ukrainian president, but with almost all their Ukrainian interlocutors, should also be a good lesson for both Volodymyr Zelenskyy and other members of the political leadership of our country: any decision that cannot be explained by specific motives always reduces the credibility of the decision-maker. And this applies not only to the attitude of Ukrainian society to such decisions, but also to the attitude of Western allies, on whose support the survival of the Ukrainian state and the nation that is now on its territory critically depends.


About the author. Vitaly Portnikov, journalist, winner of the Shevchenko National Prize of Ukraine

The editors don't always share the views expressed by the authors of the blogs.

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