The Ukrainian leader doesn’t believe the ex-US president could promptly end the conflict with Moscow, should he be reelected
Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky has dismissed former US President Donald Trump’s pledge to immediately end the conflict with Russia if he returns to the White House, insisting he could not make good on his promise.
Speaking to NBC News for an interview published on Thursday, Zelensky took a brief detour to respond to recent comments from Trump, who has argued he could quickly negotiate a peace deal between Kiev and Moscow.
“Why didn’t he do that earlier? He was president when the war was going on here,” Zelensky said, referring to the fighting that erupted in Donbass in 2014 shortly after Ukraine’s president at the time, Viktor Yanukovich, was ousted from power in Kiev. “I think he couldn’t do that. I think there are no people today in the world who could just have a word with [Russian President Vladimir] Putin and end the war.”
During a CNN town hall event last month, Trump declared that he could “have that war settled in one day, 24 hours,” if he is elected for a second term in 2024. He added that he would schedule talks with Zelensky and Putin soon after taking office. Elsewhere, Trump has described himself as the “only candidate” capable of keeping the US out of a direct conflict with Russia, which he warned would spark another world war.
Washington’s support for Kiev has already become a contentious campaign issue, with Trump and his main Republican rival, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, both questioning the billions in military aid authorized over the last year. President Joe Biden and most Democrats, meanwhile, have vowed to continue backing Ukraine “for as long as it takes.”
Peace negotiations between Kiev and Moscow broke down in April 2022 after Ukraine accused the Russian military of committing atrocities in several Kiev suburbs. Russia has repeatedly denied the allegations.
Last October, after Moscow absorbed four Ukrainian regions following referendums, Zelensky signed a decree that outlined the “impossibility” of holding negotiations with Putin.
The Kremlin has maintained that it is open to peace negotiations in principle, as long as Kiev relinquishes its claims to Russia’s newly incorporated territories and agrees to its terms, including a pledge to remain outside of NATO as a neutral state.