Ukrainian President, Volodymyr Zelensky and his top commanders say they expect a new offensive by Russia early in the new year.
Days after the Kremlin said Ukraine must recognize new realities, including Russia’s recent annexation of four Ukrainian regions, Zelensky repeated that Ukraine would make no concessions.
In a series of interviews with The Economist, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky say they are in no mood to compromise on their ultimate goals. Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24 and months ago announced annexation of four Ukranian regions – Kherson, Zaporizhia, Donetsk and Luhansk even though they don’t completely control any of those areas.
Ukraine has made territorial gains in recent months using US weapons and on Thursday, December 15, Zelensky repeated that Ukraine’s aim was to retrieve the land it held when it became independent in 199 including Crimea.
“If he [Putin] now withdraws to the 1991 borders then the possible path of diplomats will begin. That is who can really turn the war from a military path to a diplomatic one. Only he can do it.” he sai Zelensky said some 95% of Ukrainian people do not want to compromise on territory.
“The issue is deeper than land. No one wants to have a dialogue with these people who unleashed [the war].” Zelensky added that it was “a little scary” to visit recently liberated towns and witness how the occupation had changed people. “I must admit that this propaganda model of the Kremlin — it works.” It had changed Ukrainians in occupied territories. They were like “astronauts who cannot take off heavy helmets — limiting what they can see to unrelenting disinformation.”
The overall military commander in Ukraine, General Valery Zaluzhny, said he expected a new Russian offensive in the new year. “They [Russian forces] are 100% being prepared,” he said.
A major Russian attack could come “in February, at best in March and at worst at the end of January”, he said. And it could come anywhere: in Donbas, where Putin is eager to capture the remainder of Donetsk province; in the south, towards the city of Dnipro; even towards Kyiv.