Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Sunday rejected claims by Donald Trump that he might end the war within 24 hours, saying the incumbent Republican presidential nominee had failed to do so while in office.
Speaking through a translator on ABC’s “This Week,” Zelensky noted that Ukraine has been fighting Russian proxies in the Donbass region since Russia’s seizure of Crimea in 2014. Trump served as president from 2016 to 2020.
“The only desire to end the war is nice,” Zelensky said, “but this desire must be based on some real experience.” “Donald Trump really had those 24 hours once in his time. We were at war, we weren’t in full-scale war… He (Trump) had that time at his disposal, but he must have had some other priorities.”
Trump has claimed to have a close relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin, but details about his plans to stop the war have been murky. If Trump intended to end the war by forcing Ukraine to concede territory, Zelensky said, “Biden could have ended the war even in five minutes, but we wouldn’t agree.”
∎ President Joe Biden said he was “optimistic” that Sweden would soon get the green light to join NATO. He said that Sweden is making some amendments to its laws at the request of Turkey, the ban against Sweden’s membership, and that the agreement may include strengthening Turkish air defenses.
Russia claimed to have shot down a Ukrainian missile over the Russian region of Rostov, along the Ukrainian border. Regional governor Vasily Golubev said there were no reports of damage or injuries.
Biden says Putin’s goal is to ‘destroy NATO’
Biden told CNN in an interview published Sunday that the primary goal of Putin’s ambitious invasion of Ukraine is to destroy NATO, and keeping the alliance together is critical to the security of the United States and the West. Biden and other NATO leaders will meet in Vilnius, Lithuania, starting on Tuesday. The talks will center on providing military support to Ukraine and a possible path to coalition membership.
“I think Putin had an overwhelming goal from the time he sent 185,000 troops into Ukraine, and that was to break NATO,” Biden said. “So, keeping NATO together is really critical.”
Biden said that when he first met Putin two years ago in Geneva, the Russian leader sought a commitment from the United States to keep Ukraine out of NATO. Biden declined the pledge, citing the Coalition’s “open-door policy. We’re not going to exclude anyone.”
But Biden acknowledged that there is little desire among current NATO members to “bring Ukraine into the NATO family now” because the defense commitment would mean that all members of the alliance, including the United States, would be at war with Russia. He also stressed that it would take Ukraine some time to meet NATO qualifications.
“I spoke with Zelensky at length about this, and one of the things I indicated was that the United States would be willing to provide him, while the operation was going on, … security along the lines of the security we provide to Israel,” he said.
The counteroffensive in Ukraine is progressing slowly, Zelensky said, but “every day means new losses for the Ukrainians”. And the Ukrainian president, in an interview broadcast Sunday on ABC’s “This Week,” noted that several months ago, his army was forced to withdraw from some regions of eastern Ukraine. Now some of that land is being reclaimed. He denied allegations that some Western leaders were disappointed with the pace of the gains, saying that everyone was well aware of the “total strength of the Russians” and the amount of equipment they had.
“Of course, we would all like to see the counterattack being carried out in a shorter period of time, but there is a fact,” Zelensky said, adding that “the initiative today is on our side.”
The White House says it was aware of the secret talks about Ukraine between a group of former senior US officials and Russians close to Putin’s government, but did not encourage or sanction them. NBC reported last week that members of the Council on Foreign Relations met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in April to begin paving the way for ending the war. The National Security Council’s coordinator for strategic communications, John Kirby, said Sunday that the US government was “not involved in any way” in the talks.
“We didn’t pass messages through,” Kirby said.
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