Zelenskyy: Russia not serious about ending Ukraine war

  • Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy from video addresses the 77th session of the United Nations General Assembly Wednesday at U.N. headquarters. (AP Photo/Julia Nikhinson)

UNITED NATIONS — Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy suggested Wednesday that Russia’s decision to mobilize some reservists showed that Moscow isn’t serious about negotiating an end to its nearly seven-month-long war.

Speaking by video to the U.N. General Assembly meeting of world leaders hours after Russian President Vladimir Putin’s announcement, Zelenskyy insisted his country would prevail in repelling Russia’s attack and forcing its troops out.

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“We can return the Ukrainian flag to our entire territory. We can do it with the force of arms,” the president said. “But we need time.”

Putin’s decree Wednesday about the mobilization was sparse on details. Officials said as many as 300,000 reservists could be tapped. It was apparently an effort to seize momentum after a Ukrainian counteroffensive this month retook swaths of territory that Russians had held.

But the first such call-up in Russia since World War II also brought the fighting home in a new way for Russians and risked fanning domestic anxiety and antipathy toward the war. Shortly after Putin’s announcement, flights out of the country rapidly filled up, and hundreds of people were arrested at antiwar demonstrations across the country.

A day earlier, Russian-controlled parts of eastern and southern Ukraine announced plans for referendums on becoming parts of Russia. Ukrainian leaders and their Western allies consider the votes illegitimate.

Zelenskyy didn’t discuss the developments in detail. But he suggested any Russian talk of negotiations was only a delaying tactic, and that Moscow’s actions speak louder than its words.

“They talk about the talks but announce military mobilization. They talk about the talks but announce pseudo-referendums in the occupied territories of Ukraine,” he said.

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