Any cease-fire that allows Russia to keep Ukrainian territories seized since the invasion in February would only encourage an even wider conflict, giving Moscow a badly-needed opportunity to replenish and rearm for the next round, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky warned.
“Freezing the conflict with the Russian Federation means a pause that gives the Russian Federation a break for rest,” Mr. Zelensky said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal in the heavily fortified presidential compound in Kyiv on Friday. “They will not use this pause to change their geopolitics or to renounce their claims on the former Soviet republics.”
Mr. Zelensky outlined his views at a critical point in the war, as economic pain from the conflict ripples around the world and Russia’s military advances slow down, with both sides exhausted after five months of bloody fighting. Rising energy and food prices, coupled with the prospect of a Russian natural-gas shutdown this winter, are threatening to push Europe into recession, testing Western resolve just as Moscow seeks to divide the Western alliance.
Russian officials have repeatedly expressed hopes that these economic woes would erode critical American and European support for Ukraine, putting pressure on Kyiv to settle the conflict on terms favorable to Moscow, such as allowing Russia to keep recently conquered swaths of southern and eastern Ukraine. [Continue reading…]