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Ukrainian first lady says relinquishing territory is ‘like conceding freedom’

Ukrainian first lady says relinquishing territory is ‘like conceding freedom’

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The first lady of Ukraine Olena Zelenska on Thursday rejected suggestions by some Western officials that Kyiv should relinquish territory to Russia as the war nears its 100th day of fighting, arguing it would be tantamount to “conceding freedom.” 

Zelenska’s comments were in response to questions posed during an interview with ABC News after former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger last month said Ukraine should come to an agreement with Russia to end the war.

President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy and his wife Olena Zelenska attend the funeral of Leonid Kravchuk, independent Ukraine’s first president, at the International Convention Center Ukrainian House, in Kyiv, Ukraine, Tuesday, May 17, 2022. 
(AP Photo/Evgeniy Maloletka)

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“You can’t just concede parts of your territory, it’s like conceding freedom,” Zelenska said. “Even if we would consider [it], the aggressor would not stop at that. 

“He would continue pressing, he would continue launching more and more steps forward, more and more attacks against our territory,” she added.

The Ukrainian first lady championed the support of the U.S. but urged the American people “not get used to this war.”

“Otherwise, we are risking a never-ending war,” she said. “Don’t get used to our pain.”

President Biden announced another package that contained $700 million worth of security assistance this week after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy pleaded for long-range missiles to help his forces defeat Russia. 

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, center left, and his wife Olena Zelenska pay their respects at the funeral of Leonid Kravchuk, independent Ukraine's first president, during a farewell ceremony.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, center left, and his wife Olena Zelenska pay their respects at the funeral of Leonid Kravchuk, independent Ukraine’s first president, during a farewell ceremony.
(AP Photo/Evgeniy Maloletka)

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Zelenskyy has repeatedly said he will not consider conceding any Ukrainian territory, including Crimea.

After failing to take Kyiv, Moscow reoriented its invasion and said its goal is “full control” over southern and eastern Ukraine. 

Intense fighting has raged for nearly 100 days, and ground forces have been increasingly relied on in the northeastern Luhansk region in an attempt to completely occupy it. 

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The full occupation of Luhansk would allow Russian troops to not only push west into the Donetsk region but potentially further into Ukraine.

Ukrainian officials have long warned they believe Russia may make another attempt for Kyiv and seek complete domination over Ukraine. 

In this photo provided by the Ukrainian Presidential Press Office, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, center, walks before a meeting with President of the European Parliament Roberta Metsola in Kyiv, Ukraine, Friday, April 1, 2022. 

In this photo provided by the Ukrainian Presidential Press Office, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, center, walks before a meeting with President of the European Parliament Roberta Metsola in Kyiv, Ukraine, Friday, April 1, 2022. 
(Ukrainian Presidential Press Office via AP)

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Zelenska applauded the courage her husband has shown as the leader of Ukraine during one of the most tumultuous periods for the nation since World War II.

The first lady said she was “proud” the world was getting to witness her husbands “true identity.”


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