Ukrainian first lady Olena Zelenska is urging her country’s allies to not lose hope in the fight against Russia’s invasion of her country.
Now in the 17th month of the war, Kyiv has continued to slowly but steadily reclaim Moscow-occupied territory in southeastern Ukraine since beginning its offensive plan earlier this summer. Ukraine’s defense against the Kremlin has largely relied on Western military aid, with the United States pledging over $43 billion since Russia launched its full invasion in February 2022.
Western leaders, including President Joe Biden, have pledged to stand beside Ukraine for as long as it takes. But during an exclusive interview with the British online newspaper, The Independent, Zelenska expressed concern that the international community may begin to lose interest in the prolonged war.
“If the aggressor wins now, it will be the worst-case scenario for all of humanity,” Ukraine’s first lady told the outlet, speaking of the consequences that she believes could ensue if Ukraine’s allies were to turn a blind eye on the war.
“This will mean that global deterrents aren’t working,” she continued. “This will mean that anyone with power, strength and sufficient financial capacity can do whatever they want in this world.”
Newsweek reached out to the Department of Defense via email Wednesday evening for comment on Zelenska’s interview.
Several countries have called for a peaceful end to the Russian-Ukraine war, although neither side have shown true interest in brokering an agreement. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky‘s 10-point peace plan, which would restore Ukraine’s territorial integrity and ensure Russia is held responsible for the war, has been rejected by Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The Kremlin has also indicated that peace talks cannot be reached while the U.S. and its allies continue to enact strong sanctions against Moscow.
The next round of peace talks are scheduled to take place in Saudi Arabia this weekend, and more than 30 countries have been invited to participate. While Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has told Russian state media that Moscow will “follow” the meeting, Russia is not expected to attend.
“Russia is not party to the talks, so without their involvement as the aggressor nation, this already has serious drawbacks,” said Javed Ali, former senior director for counterterrorism at the National Security Council, who spoke with Newsweek earlier this week.
Toward the end of the interview, which is scheduled to be released in its entirety on Monday, Ukraine’s first lady spoke directly to her country’s allies.
“Ukrainians are paying for this with the lives of their compatriots, the rest of the world just pays with its resources,” Zelenska said. “Please don’t get fatigued, because we as Ukrainians have no right to get tired.”
“Ukraine defends not only its interests, not only its existence, we are trying to maintain the entire democratic balance of the world,” she concluded.
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