Zelensky says he will listen to Trump’s ideas to end war in Ukraine ‘with pleasure’

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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said he would listen to former US President Donald Trump’s ideas to end the war in Ukraine with “pleasure” but trod carefully around the issue during an interview at the Delphi Economic Forum in Greece.

The embattled Ukrainian leader’s remarks came after reports that the Republican presidential candidate reportedly said if he were to be reelected, he would pressure Ukraine into a peace deal with Russia that would see Kyiv cede territory in the process.

“First and foremost those signals were on certain media platforms. I haven’t heard that directly from Trump,” Zelensky told CNN’s Senior Correspondent Fred Pleitgen via video link from Ukraine. “His ideas in detail, I did not have an opportunity to discuss them with him and to discuss his ideas on how to end the war.”

Zelensky continued: “If I have such an opportunity I will with pleasure listen to them and then we can discuss the topic.”

Prior to his remarks in Delphi on Wednesday, Zelensky previously told German newspaper The Bild that he had invited Trump to Ukraine “to see everything with his own eyes and draw his own conclusions.” He said that Trump had privately conveyed interest in accepting the invitation to visit Ukraine.

The Trump campaign on Wednesday pushed back on Zelensky’s comments, calling them “incorrect.”

“There’s been no outreach from Zelensky, and President Trump has said it wouldn’t be appropriate for him to go to Ukraine right now since he’s not Commander in Chief,” a Trump campaign official told CNN.

Ukrainian President Zelensky is pictured speaking from Ukraine during an interview with CNN’s Fred Pleitgen, who is at the Delphi Economic Forum in Greece. - Delphi Economic Forum
Ukrainian President Zelensky is pictured speaking from Ukraine during an interview with CNN’s Fred Pleitgen, who is at the Delphi Economic Forum in Greece. - Delphi Economic Forum

The Ukrainian leader also used the economic forum to call on allies to be “realists” rather than “pessimists” when asked by Pleitgen about Ukraine’s lengthy wait times for Western weaponry production and mobilization as its forces are being “pushed back at the moment.”

Zelensky said the situation in the eastern regions of Ukraine had “stabilized now.”

“We see how our GDP is rising because the maritime corridor is working. I would not look on the situation as you do,” he continued. “We are at war and the enemy is serious but let’s be realists, and not pessimists.”

He added: “Once we have weapons and concrete steps from Putin’s partners, we will break Putin’s backbone.”

Also during his address at the forum, Zelensky pointed to Russia’s renewed usage of aerial bombs as one of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s major “bets” to turn the tide of the war.

“Now Russia begins hitting Kharkiv with aerial bombs. These are special guided bombs that destroy everything within hundreds of meters,” Zelensky explained, calling it the “last of Putin’s effective bets in this war.”

He said Putin’s “bet is on terror” and that the Russian leader “thinks he will turn the situation in his favor with these bombs that ruin any building.”

“He thinks that these bombs will be enough and that their trajectories will eventually destroy our energetics, throwing Ukraine into blackout.”

Zelensky also stressed that Ukraine is complying with the conditions imposed by Western countries over their supply of weaponry to Kyiv.

Asked about the restrictions imposed from Western countries, including not using long-distance weapons on targets in Russia, Zelensky said that none of the weapons used on Russian territory were supplied by the West.

“It is not a secret that the condition of usage of Western weapons was the inability to attack Russian targets in Russian territory,” he said.

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky inspects new fortifications for Ukrainian servicemen near the Russian border in the Kharkiv region on Tuesday. - Ukrainian Presidential Press Service/Handout/Reuters
Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky inspects new fortifications for Ukrainian servicemen near the Russian border in the Kharkiv region on Tuesday. - Ukrainian Presidential Press Service/Handout/Reuters

“I’d like to underscore that no Western weapons were used to attack in such a way. We did not even retaliate with strikes with such weapons on Russian territory. That is true.

“Everything that Ukraine uses after Russia’s aggression is being produced exclusively by Ukraine and is used exclusively against military or energy targets.

“Ukraine does not even use its own weapons against the civilian population.”

Russia launched missile strikes on Ukraine’s southern Odesa region on Wednesday, striking transport and logistics infrastructure Ukraine’s Defense Forces of the South said in a Telegram post. “The enemy continues to methodically terrorize Odesa region,” the defense forces said.

No information is currently available on casualties and the extent of the damage is being clarified.

The Ukrainian state railway company, Ukrzaliznytsia, said in a Telegram post that two railway workers were injured and hospitalized during attacks on Odesa Wednesday morning.

The latest attacks on Odesa follow a wave of drone attacks on southern Ukraine overnight, with 12 drones destroyed in the Mykolayiv region. Russian forces targeted an energy facility causing a fire that has now been contained, the defense forces said on Telegram.

The attack on southern Ukraine’s infrastructure caused power outages in the Kherson region, Oleksandr Prokudin, head of Kherson region military administration, said in a Telegram post. Restoration works are underway to restore power to the Kherson and Mykolaiv regions, Ukraine’s state energy company Ukrenergo said.

CNN’s Olga Voitovych, Svitlana Vlasova, Caitlin Danaher, Mariya Knight, Fred Pleitgen and Kate Sullivan contributed reporting.

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