Zelensky calls for introduction of large-scale sanctions against Russia before possible start of invasion

President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky has said that sanctions against Russia should be introduced in the near future, before the possible start of large-scale military aggression.

"Today our partners are saying that war may start tomorrow if there is a powerful escalation on the Russian side, and then there will be powerful sanctions applied. But if we are talking about the sanctions policy and the probability of escalation, then the question is, why are you not introducing sanctions now rather than wait until after the escalation? … As a country that is building a powerful economy and undergoing reforms, I support imposing sanctions now. I asked one leader: 'Why do you support sanctions against Russia in case there is an invasion into Ukraine? Why do you need sanctions after we lose the whole territory of Ukraine?'" Zelensky said in an interview with The Washington Post, published on Thursday.

At the same time, he noted that it is highly likely that the sanctions imposed after the outbreak of hostilities do not contain further aggression by Russia.

"Sanctions are considered to be a preventive tool because they can be applied and then lifted. If there is an invasion by Russia, do you introduce powerful sanctions after we might have already lost several territories? Once you introduce sanctions, what will Russia do? … So once you introduce even powerful sanctions, they will look at you and say: 'Listen, we can deal with this, we can continue as it was.' I think this is wrong," the president said.

Zelensky also stressed that Ukraine is ready for a dialogue. Commenting on his initiative of trilateral negotiations with the participation of Ukraine, Russia and the United States, he indicated that he was asking the United States for assistance in creating a suitable format.

"Let's have a dialogue with Russia. I'm asking the United States to help us to find a format. We support dialogue; we are against war," he noted.

"If we are going to protect ourselves against one of the most powerful armies in the world, then this will be war. And if this will be war, it's going to be a very strong war, and everyone will lose. Hundreds of thousands of lives will be lost. Ukraine will suffer; Russia will suffer; European countries adjacent to Ukraine will suffer; and the ones who are further away will be impacted by a migration crisis. For us, the most important thing is to preserve our territory," he added.