- President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has called for Africa’s support for Ukraine against the Russian invasion
- The Ukraine leader highlighted why Africa cannot afford to take a neutral position, warning that Russia’s victory will lead to World War III
- Mr Zelenskyy in a digital press conference with YEN.com.gh and other African news media, also highlighted what Africa stands to gain by supporting Ukraine
- The Ukrainian president advised Africa against supporting Russia, which, he said, is looking for more places to wreak havoc
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Kyiv, Ukraine - “I am an open president,” Volodymyr Zelenskyy, the President of Ukraine, said at the beginning of his online meeting with YEN.com.gh and other African media on Thursday, August 4.
"I want our dialogue to be open…You can ask any questions... I promise to answer them openly,” he said.
True to his words, President Zelenskyy, who donned his characteristic, simple but iconic short-sleeved military olive green T-shirt, spoke openly and passionately as he responded to questions asked about the Russian invasion of Ukraine and its global implications.
Zelenskyy: How I tried to stop the Russian war from happening
Answering questions on the possibility of having a negotiated peace between Russia and Ukraine, President Zelenskyy narrated how he even went out of his way to prevent the war from happening.
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The Ukrainian leader said he talked to world leaders, from Europe to America, Australia and Africa, in a bid to have direct negotiations with Vladimir Putin, president of Russia, but all to no avail as Moscow was not ready to give peace a chance.
“They (Russia) don’t offer us dialogue. They demand that we give up and accept their terms – forget that we have our own land, our own flag, our history. They just want to erase us,” he said.
Contrary to its media propaganda, the president said Moscow gave no room for dialogue or peace talks.
“You have to understand that there is no dialogue; there is no peace talk. There is an ultimatum from them to us.
“An ultimatum that says, “If you don’t do what we want, we’ll keep killing you”.
“With guns in their hands, they say, “We are ready to talk to you”. They tie our hands and cut our tongues off and then say, “Let’s talk”.
“This is not a dialogue, this is not a conversation. This is a terrorist who feels his strength and feels no mercy for human life,” Mr Zelenskyy said as he recalled the events leading to the full-scale invasion, which started on Thursday, February 24.
“Parts of our country had already already been occupied – Crimea and [some areas in] Donbas. But now they invaded to occupy us entirely, to kill us all here in the capital. They've murdered, they've tortured our people, burned our people, cut their limbs off. What do you expect me to do after this? Give them another call?”
Mr Zelenskyy is a licensed lawyer who pursued a career in comedy and created his own production company, one of the biggest in Ukraine. Before his election as president in 2019, he used to produce a lot of shows and even played the role of the President in comedy series.
But 2022 was no joke. Exuding an aura of confidence, now he says Ukraine will end the war with victory. And this is not a movie.
“We didn’t start this war, but I know, and I believe we’ll end it. And we will end it with our victory,” he said.
Nevertheless, the president stated that any war or fight ends with negotiation. He, however, noted, soberly, that “the road to this dialogue is very long and very bloody, sadly.”
World War III: What will happen if Russia wins
Speaking further on why Africa should support Ukraine, President Zelenskyy warned that if Russia wins, other powerful authoritarian countries will follow Moscow’s footsteps and this will be the beginning of World War III.
“If Putin wins this war, it will be the beginning of World War III. I’m confident about it. The big world autocracies will do the same. The world will be plunged into chaos.”
To avoid World War III, which will affect virtually everyone, Africa and the rest of the world need to unite around Ukraine to end the invasion, he said.
Recently, Sergey Lavrov, Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs, embarked on a tour of four African countries, namely Egypt, Ethiopia, Uganda and the Republic of the Congo.
However, President Zelenskyy said one other way African leaders can support Ukraine is not to host Russian officials who turn up presenting themselves as peaceful people.
“You welcome them because they are not starting war in your country. But the matter is, they are not interested in world stability. They want to be influential.
“They don’t know how to raise the economy in their own country because the money they’re earning they are spending on weapons.
“And they will be searching for other areas where they can be wreaking havoc,” he said.
“Tell the truth”: Zelenskyy on what Africa should do to support Ukraine
On how Africa can be of help in ending the lingering Russia-Ukraine war, President Zelenskyy said the continent should help tell and spread the truth about the invasion.
“Today, it is more important to win the information war. This is a war of truth that comes from the journalists of Ukraine, the international networks, from you. All journalists must tell the truth, not spread misinformation carried by the narrative of the Russian Federation, but the truth of what is happening here,” the Ukrainian leader said.
“Today, it is important to win this war, to convey to every African family that we are peace-loving people…It should be clear that Russia is just a colonizer who wants to occupy and destroy our country.
“This information war must be fair. The truth must prevail. I think this is the most the important thing,” he added.
Mr Zelenskyy reiterated that Africa should not take a neutral position, adding that beyond donating money or weapons, the continent should “diplomatically” condemn the Russian atrocities.
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