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Read a Transcript of Volodymyr Zelensky’s Interview With The Times

President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine spoke to the Times journalists Andrew Kramer, Philip P. Pan and Bill Brink for 50 minutes at the presidential office in Kyiv on Monday. Anastasia Kuznietsova provided translation.

This transcript of the interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

Q. The Biden administration has prohibited Ukraine from using American-made weapons to strike inside Russia, out of concern for escalation, including the risk of nuclear war. Your government has urged a change. Given the situation on the battlefield, how should this policy change, and why?

First of all, the Biden administration was indeed against the use of Western weapons. Today, we have our own weapons, our own drones, and we use them, but I would like to note that we do this for defense. This is very important, and what we have always asked of President Biden — and not only President Biden, but the leaders of many countries — is that we want to use the weapons for defense.

When there are attacks from Russian territory targeting civilians exclusively, and artillery is firing exclusively at civilians, when artillery strikes a city, the city center — that’s how it happens — you can’t respond to them because of the range of your artillery. We don’t have long-range shells. You must understand that for the last year and a half, Ukraine hasn’t had any long-range shells.

How do we respond when they strike our cities? They are stationed in the villages nearest to the border of Ukraine in Russia. They strike from there, knowing that we will not return fire, knowing that they are using civilian populations as cover, because their weapons are located among the civilian population of the Russian Federation. But they proceed calmly, understanding that our partners do not give us permission, as you said.

And here, when we talk about ATACMS or HIMARS, or we talk about artillery shells, or relevant missiles — Storm Shadow, Scalp, etc. — we do not have permission to strike the territory of the Russian Federation, their military locations, headquarters, etc. This is part of our defense. How can we protect ourselves from these attacks? This is the only way.

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Last modified: 23 May 2024
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