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The Economist interviews President Volodymyr Zelensky on why Ukraine must defeat Putin


President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine and Zanny Minton Beddoes, The Economist's Editor-in-chief, in his war room

When asked if Vladimir Putin believes Ukraine has a right to exist, Mr Zelensky said "I don't think he visualises in his own mind the same Ukraine we see. He sees Ukraine as a part of his world, his worldview, but that doesn't correspond with what's happened over the last 30 years."

On Putin and warfare

"The invaders do not even mourn their own casualties," he says. "This is something I do not understand. Some 15,000 [Russian soldiers] have been killed in one month…[Vladimir Putin] is throwing Russian soldiers like logs into a train's furnace. And, they are not even burying them."

"They are kidnapping the mayors of our cities. They killed some of them. Some of them we can't find. Some of them we have found already, and they are dead. And some of them were replaced. They are doing the same thing that they did in Donbas in 2014. The same people are carrying out these operations. It's the same methodology."

Views of America and the West

"[Our Western partners] did not implement sanctions to disconnect Russia from the SWIFT system, impose an embargo on Russian oil and gas exports. All these sanctions are incomplete. They have been threatened, but not yet implemented. Now we are hearing that the decision depends on whether Russia launches a chemical attack on us. This is not the right approach. We are not guinea pigs."

What victory means

He is emphatic about what that end will be: "We believe in victory," he says. "It's impossible to believe in anything else. We will definitely win because this is our home, on our land, our independence. It's just a question of time."

"Victory is being able to save as many lives as possible, because without this nothing would make sense…Our land is important, yes, but ultimately, it's just territory." To save everyone, defend all interests while protecting people and not give up territory is probably an impossible task, he concedes. He does not know when or how it will end, but he knows that "it will end with us still standing here defending" life in Ukraine.

Read "Volodymyr Zelensky on why Ukraine must defeat Putin" on For more read the 1843 Eyewitness article "In the war room with Volodymyr Zelensky".

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