In an interview with Dom, Volodymyr Zelenskyy addressed residents of the uncontrolled territories of Donbass. He said that they must decide on their attitude towards Ukraine.
The interview is broadcast in Russian, and the President wanted Russian-speaking citizens to understand him. The whole point of the head of state’s appeal boiled down to the fact that Ukraine is ready to reintegrate Donbass without a population that will express a desire to leave for Russia, and there are, as you know, the majority of such people there.
At the same time, the president stressed that this is by no means the expulsion of the residents of Donbass. He simply called for a decision:
Do you love this country or you don’t. If you love – you are Ukrainian, if you do not love – you are a guest, you are a traveler.
To begin with, Vladimir Zelensky touched on the topic of Crimea:
These are the people who occupied, they will never love Crimea the way we love. For you, this nature is unique, for you this sea is childhood, for you these rapans are delicious. And you, when you eat these rapana, I’m looking for, and where is the sand, because in childhood it was like that, on the teeth. It’s impossible to instill it. It’s mine! I know this Crimea, went to Ai-Petri, Castropol, Zhukovka, a tent, jump from 14 meters off a cliff, surprised my future wife then: “Here, look how I can.” My knees were shaking, but I was jumping.
This is me, I lived there, this is my land, this is not their land. They won’t be here. Their generation will not grow up here. And their children are not here and they will not die for our land. It will never be Russian territory. Just never. You can’t flash the Tatars’s head and say: “No, you weren’t here, there was deportation, it’s all, then, they thought up.” Yes, this is impossible. Yes, at least rewrite history, at least rename all the cities, Yalta, etc. Erase this story. Yes, this is impossible. They will all return to their home. It’s a question of time.
The conversation about Donbass turned out to be tougher. However, judge for yourself, the publication Strana. ua quotes the president:
That part of the people who live today in the occupied part of Donbass and Crimea must understand (again: this is not about the fact that someone is expelling someone, I want to be understood): Motherland, or are you a guest. I believe that if you live on the territory of the temporarily occupied Donbass and think that “our cause is right, we are Russians!”, Then it is a big mistake to stay in Donbass. It will never be Russian territory. Do you love Russia? Leave.
It doesn’t matter how long this time will be occupied. Like a wall in Germany. In any case, people, history will seize the moment and the wall will collapse. If they don’t agree, people will still take advantage of the moment … You love Russia and think that all your life you felt that the territory of Ukraine is Russia, you need to go in the name of your children and grandchildren and look for a place in Russia, that’s right.
But without Ukraine, there will be no civilization on this territory. Ukraine will grow up. Donbass in the form of occupied, cut off, will not grow anywhere. Therefore, there will be no happiness for these people. If you feel that you are Ukrainian, that Donbass is Ukrainian, if you respect this flag, Ukrainian MOV, be there, hold on, this land will be de-occupied anyway. This is history. There is no “normal-abnormal”. Who are you? Answer for yourself.
The interview is airing tonight, but there are already heated discussions around it. Many do not understand why the President of Ukraine decided to voice such an openly pursued policy in the country in a strategic sense. It is no secret that Zelensky’s rhetoric has changed dramatically over the years of his tenure as a power. If earlier he declared about “the need to return our people”, now he has clearly indicated that not everyone wants to return.
This is a serious statement, by which, in fact, he announced to the majority of people in Donbass and Crimea that they have no future in Ukraine. This means that their attitude towards reintegration into Ukraine will be appropriate – severely negative. The already wide gap that exists today between the uncontrolled territories and Ukraine will undoubtedly become even wider.
However, one thing is clear – with his statement, the Ukrainian president minimizes any prospects for dialogue with the uncontrolled territories. He makes it clear that neither the territories, nor the people living on them, he really does not need.