Zelensky says cease-fire in Donbas is first priority
President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky declares that he sees as his primary task the cessation of hostilities in Donbas, for which he is ready to make unpopular decisions, even those that will lead to his resignation from the post of head of the Ukrainian state.
"Our first task is a cease-fire in Donbas," said Zelensky in his address to the Ukrainian people from the rostrum of the Verkhovna Rada.
"I was often asked what I am ready to do for a cease-fire? Strange question. And what are you, Ukrainians, ready for the lives of people close to you? For what? I can assure you that I am ready to do everything so that our heroes will not die anymore. I'm not afraid to make difficult decisions. I'm ready to lose my popularity, my ratings, and if necessary, I'm ready to lose my position without hesitation so that peace will come," the sixth president of Ukraine said.
He added: "Without losing our territory, never."
The dialogue should begin with the release of all Ukrainian captives, Zelensky said. "We didn't start this war, but it is us who must end it. We are ready for dialogue. But I am certain that the first step towards this should be the return of all Ukrainian prisoners," he said.
Return of the lost territories is the next challenge, Zelensky said. "To be frank, I don't think that this wording is accurate: we cannot lose what rightfully belongs to us. Both Crimea and Donbas are Ukrainian land," he said.
People have been lost together with territories and "we need to win their minds back," Zelensky said, speaking in Russian.