Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky warned on Saturday that “the elimination” of Ukrainian soldiers in Mariupol, a city besieged by Russia, “would end any peace negotiations” with Moscow.
“The elimination of our military, of our men [em Mariupol] will end any negotiations” of peace between Russia and Ukraine, declared Zelensky during an interview with the website Ukraïnska Pravda, in which he also warned that both sides would find themselves in a “dead end”.
In terms of deaths, “Mariupol could be ten times Borodianka,” a small Ukrainian town near Kiev attacked and destroyed by Russian soldiers, Zelensky said.
“How much more [casos como] Borodianka are presented, the more difficult it will be” to negotiate, he stressed.
“To be honest, we don’t have any confidence in the Mariupol negotiations,” Zelensky said.
After the Ukrainian army announced on April 11 that it was preparing for a “last battle” in this southeastern city, Ukraine’s president acknowledged a “very difficult situation”.
“Our soldiers are surrounded and, despite everything, they continue to defend themselves,” he said.
“This means death for some of us and captivity for others,” the 36th Marine Brigade posted on Facebook.
The next day, Ukrainian authorities said fighting left between 20,000 and 22,000 dead in Mariupol, a strategic city where 441,000 people lived in peacetime.
Forty days after it began, fighting is now focused on the vast industrial area of Mariupol, near the Sea of Azov.
“Contact” is maintained with Ukrainian forces on the ground, Zelensky said.
“It is a humanitarian crisis, there is no food, water or medicine,” he added, accusing Russia of “rejecting” the creation of humanitarian corridors.
Negotiations have been stalled for several days. They are “extremely difficult”, admitted on Tuesday an adviser to the Ukrainian presidency, Mykhailo Podoliak.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, in turn, accused Ukrainian negotiators of “lack of coherence”.
On Saturday, Zelensky said he wanted a peace treaty with Moscow that would consist of “two separate documents”.
“One of them will be about security guarantees for Ukraine and the other will be directly dedicated to its relations with Russia,” he added.