Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Sunday that the Kremlin is not “serious” about negotiation efforts to end the war — and blasted Russian leader Vladimir Putin as living in an “alternative reality.”
Speaking through a translator, Zelensky told CNN’s Fareed Zakaria, who interviewed him from Davos, Switzerland, that his early optimism on the negotiations has stalled.
“I can’t see their willingness, nor can I see any practicality in what we are talking about,” Zelensky said, adding that he wants to speak with Putin directly.
Putin, he said, needs to be “shoved into the reality of today — not being in this bubble, this alternative reality of his that he has been building for quite a long time.”
The Kremlin leader “does not fully understand what’s going on,” Zelensky said, adding the war will not end until Putin sees the truth and exits his “world of propaganda.”
“Perhaps then will he understand we should start talking and should put [an] end to this war that he launched.”
The pessimistic remarks came as Zelensky on Sunday visited troops in Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, for the first time since the war broke out.
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“I feel boundless pride in our defenders. Every day, risking their lives, they fight for Ukraine’s freedom,” he wrote on the Telegram about his rare frontline trip.
Russian troops currently control about 30% of the badly-shelled Kharkiv, according to Ukrainian officials, and Zelensky said Saturday that protecting the country’s eastern region remains “indescribably difficult.”
The warring countries took part in close-quarter combat Sunday in Sievierodonetsk as Russia doubles down on their efforts to take the Donbas region.
Residents of the city — left without water or cell service — risked getting hit by bullets when getting water from wells, its mayor Oleksandr Striuk said.
Sievierodonetsk is the biggest city that Ukraine controls in its Luhansk region, whose governor Serhiy Gaidai said Sunday the fighting was so intense he has no clue how many people died this weekend.
“”The situation has extremely escalated,” Gaidai said.
Zelensky said Saturday his country still needs more weapons to protect the region.
“Every day we are working on strengthening our defenses. That means first and foremost the supply of weapons,” he said in a speech.
With Post wires