May 18, 2022

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The president said Ukraine wants peace but will not give up its territory to Russia

The president said Ukraine wants peace but will not give up its territory to Russia

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky speaks during the annual Munich Security Conference, in Munich, Germany, February 19, 2022. REUTERS/Andreas Gebert

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KIEV (Reuters) – Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky accused Russia of undermining peace efforts and ruled out any regional concessions in an address to the nation in the early hours of Tuesday.

Zelensky spoke after Russia’s decision to formally recognize two Moscow-backed regions in eastern Ukraine as independent and send troops into the region, precipitating a crisis the West fears could unleash a major war. Read more

After presiding over a Security Council meeting, Zelensky accused Russia of violating Ukraine’s sovereign territory and said that could mean Moscow would halt the Minsk peace talks aimed at ending the separatist conflict in eastern Ukraine.

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Zelensky said Ukraine wanted to resolve the crisis through diplomacy, but his country was ready to dig in the long term.

“We are committed to the peaceful and diplomatic path, and we will only follow it,” Zelensky said. “But we are on our own land, we are not afraid of anything and anyone, we owe nothing to anyone, and we will not give anything to anyone.”

He called for an emergency summit of the leaders of Ukraine, Russia, Germany and France, while urging Ukraine’s allies to take action against Russia.

A Reuters witness saw unusually large columns of military equipment moving through the breakaway city of Donetsk after Russian President Vladimir Putin asked the Russian Defense Ministry to send troops to the two regions to “maintain peace”.

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Russia’s actions drew US and European condemnation and pledges of new sanctions, although it was not immediately clear whether the West would view Russian military action as the beginning of an all-out invasion. The region was already under the control of Russian- and Moscow-backed separatists in practice.

The Zelensky administration has expressed frustration with the West’s unwillingness to impose preemptive sanctions after Russia massed more than 100,000 troops near Ukraine’s border in recent weeks.

“We expect clear and effective support steps from our partners,” Zelensky said. “It is very important to find out who is our true friend and partner, who will continue to intimidate the Russian Federation with words.”

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Additional reporting by Pavel Politiuk, Maria Tsvetkova, Matthias Williams; Lincoln Fest Editing.

Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.