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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is not willing to give up the eastern territory of Donbas in order to end the war with Russia.
Seven weeks into the invasion of Ukraine, Russia has put significant pressure on the eastern territories of their neighbours, with Donbas set to be the location of the next major battle of the war.
However, Zelenskyy says Ukraine is willing to fight in those regions because losing that territory could influence the entire course of the war.
Speaking to CNN’s Jake Tapper, the Ukrainian President said: “In the centuries-old history of Ukraine, there is the story that Ukraine has either taken some territory or needs to give up some territory.
Russian forces have launched a large-scale offensive in the battle for Donbas. A significant portion of Russian forces are concentrated in the region. We'll never surrender any part of Ukraine, President Zelenskyy: Ukraine's Ministry of Defence— ANI (@ANI) April 19, 2022
“Ukraine and the people of our states are absolutely clear: We don’t want anyone else’s territory and we are not going to give up our own.”
However, Zelenskyy noted that the likelihood of negotiations with Russia is thinning after what transpired in cities such as Bucha, Borodyanka, and Mariupol.
Zelenskyy said: “We cannot give up our territory, but we must find at least some dialogue with Russia if they are capable and if we are still ready. But the chances of this are growing less by the day.”
With Ukraine recently declaring victory in Kyiv, Tapper suggested how a new Russian offensive in Donbas would likely start soon.
In response, Zelenskyy said: “For us, the battle for Donbas is very important. It is important for different reasons, for the reason of safety.
“First of all, our grouping that is located in Donbas is one of the best military we have. It is a large group and Russia wants to encircle them and destroy them.
"It is nearly 40,000 people. It is 44,000 professional military men who survived a great war from the beginning of 2014.”
Zelenskyy added that if Russia was to capture Donbas, there is no guarantee they wouldn’t again try to capture the capital city of Kyiv.
These are the indicative estimates of Russia’s combat losses as of April 18, according to the Armed Forces of Ukraine. pic.twitter.com/Jfs77tSsFV— The Kyiv Independent (@KyivIndependent) April 18, 2022
He continued: “This is why it is very important for us to not allow them, to stand our ground, because this battle ... it can influence the course of the whole war.”
The leader added: "Because I don't trust the Russian military and Russian leadership.
"That is why we understand that the fact that we fought them off and they left, and they were running away from Kyiv -- from the north, from Chernihiv and from that direction -- it doesn't mean if they are able to capture Donbas, they won't come further towards Kyiv."
Ukraine has seen great military success in their fight against the assumed powerhouse of Russia.
According to the Kyiv Independent, the General Staff of Armed Forces of Ukraine reported that Ukrainian defenders have killed approximately 20,300 Russian invaders up until April 17.
When asked if he believes Ukraine will win the war, Zelenskyy replied: “Yes, of course."