(KYIV, Ukraine) — In an exclusive interview with ABC’s World News Tonight anchor David Muir, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy indicated he’s not interested in negotiating with Russia to end Moscow’s invasion.
“It’s a question of dialogue with terrorists. We cannot — you cannot discuss anything with terrorists. The majority of the world — majority of the countries — understand that we are dealing with a terrorist state after what they’ve done to our people, to civilian people,” Zelenskyy said.
Zelenskyy cited suspected instances of rape and torture by Russian troops in areas outside of Kyiv during a retreat earlier this year. Images of tortured and bound bodies littered across neighborhoods like Bucha spread across the world.
“After rapes, after tortures, after murders, after we discovered a lot of dead bodies … it’s not a war, it’s pure and clear terrorism, which Russia is doing against our nation and occupation of our land,” the Ukrainian president said. “So, we cannot have any compromises with terrorists. We cannot have any dialogue with the terrorists.”
When pressed by Muir over the alleged atrocities, Zelenskyy said Putin was a war criminal and should be prosecuted.
“As any civilized person, any civilized man, I think that those responsible should not just go to hell, no, they should have fair trials — fair, independent trials,” Zelenskyy said.
The comments come as Ukraine wages a counteroffensive to regain territory in the southern and eastern parts of the country that were lost to Russia.
The main counteroffensive is focused around the port city of Kherson, which was the first major city Russia conquered in its invasion. However, Zelenskyy hinted to Muir that more than one counteroffensive is taking place.
“I won’t say that it’s only counteroffensive in Kherson. … There is a direction or directions — plural — and we have to move forward,” he said.
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