DAVOS, Switzerland–Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky accused his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, of living in a world of propaganda and in “a bubble of alternative reality,” which he suggested had contributed to the Kremlin leader’s failure to end the war in Ukraine.
Speaking Wednesday via videoconferencing to an audience at the World Economic Forum in this Swiss mountain town, Mr. Zelensky said he didn’t think Mr. Putin was fully aware of what was going on in Ukraine and only until he “understands reality” could there be a diplomatic solution to the conflict.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has said that Mr. Putin is fully on top of events in Ukraine. In March, the presidential spokesman told reporters that it was Washington that lacked real information about Mr. Putin and the Kremlin and that such misunderstandings could result in “wrong decisions, in careless decisions that have very bad consequences,” he said.
Mr. Zelensky told the breakfast gathering hosted by Ukrainian businessman Victor Pinchuk that Russia isn’t showing any desire to negotiate an end to the war and that peace talks between the two nations had largely stopped.
The only successful negotiations recently have been the agreement brokered earlier this month to evacuate civilians and soldiers who had been trapped for weeks in the Azovstal steel mill in Mariupol, Mr. Zelensky said.
“Other than that, I can’t see any progress in the talks,” he said, adding that Russia appeared to be playing for time.
Moscow has, in turn, accused Ukraine of dragging its feet on peace negotiations and failing to show up to certain talks.
The Ukrainian leader said he was willing to talk directly to Mr. Putin, without intermediaries, but that Russia would need to agree to pull its troops back to positions held before Moscow invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24. That would be “the first step,” he said.
Mr. Zelensky said Ukraine would continue fighting for its independence and freedom until it reclaimed all territories that had been seized from it, even ground lost in 2014, the year Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula.
He urged the international community to remain united and maintain the political will to continue to help Ukraine, including with the supply of more weapons.
— Ann M. Simmons