Zelensky says stalemate ‘not an option’ for Ukraine

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Zelensky says stalemate 'not an option' for Ukraine

A stalemate in Ukraine is “not an option,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky declared Tuesday, saying that Kyiv will fight to push Russian forces from all Ukrainian territory.

“We have already lost too many people to simply cede our territory,” Zelensky said at a virtual conference hosted by Britain’s Financial Times newspaper. “We have to achieve a full de-occupation of our entire territory.”

The comments came as Ukrainian fighters continued to wage a bloody, street-by-street battle for Severodonetsk, a key city in the eastern Donbas region and the last Ukrainian holdout in the Luhansk oblast.

The fighting follows a surprise Ukrainian counterattack over the weekend in which Ukrainian forces reportedly took back the city center. But Russian forces have responded with yet more troops and an unrelenting bombardment of the city, already in ruins from weeks of Russian artillery fire.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky declared Tuesday that a stalemate in Ukraine is “not an option.”
via REUTERS
Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskiy visits a position of Ukrainian service members.
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy visits a position of Ukrainian service members.
REUTERS

Severodonetsk Mayor Oleksandr Stryuk said Tuesday on Ukrainian TV that Ukrainian forces were holding fast.

“Our armed forces have strengthened their positions and are holding the line,” he said.

The small industrial city has emerged as the key impediment to Moscow’s designs on the Donbas, the eastern region made up of the Luhansk and Donetsk oblasts.

Ukrainian troops fire with surface-to-surface rockets MLRS towards Russian positions.
Ukrainian troops fire surface-to-surface rockets toward Russian positions.
AFP via Getty Images
Smoke and dirt rise from shelling in the city of Severodonetsk, Ukraine.
Smoke and dirt rise from shelling in the city of Severodonetsk, Ukraine.
AFP via Getty Images

Some 11,000 civilians are believed to still be sheltering in the city.

Russia claims to have taken 97% of Luhansk, and Ukrainian authorities estimate roughly half of Donetsk — which is home to the ruined city of Mariupol — has been occupied by Russian forces

Fighting has been ongoing in the Donbas since Russia annexed Crimea in 2014. But after the Kremlin’s failed push to take the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv during the opening stages of February’s full-scale invasion, Moscow announced its intention to take the Donbas, which it claims are independent, Russia-aligned states.

Zelensky’s comments Tuesday made clear that Kyiv will not offer the Donbas or Crimea as concessions in any peace negotiations, a response to suggestions from some Western officials that Ukraine cede territory in order to bring the four-month war to a close.

With Post wires

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