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Zelensky clarifies his words on a ‘preventive strike’ on Russia
Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky claims that his recent remarks about a “preventive strike” on Russia referred to sanctions, not military measures. He discussed the remarks in an interview on BBC.
On October 6 Zelensky addressed the international community “as it was before February 24,” saying that NATO should launch “a preventive strike” in order to “eliminate the possibility that Russia could use a nuclear weapon.” At the time, Zelensky did not specify whether he meant a preventive nuclear strike. Serhiy Nykyforov, Zelensky’s press secretary, later clarified that Zelensky meant that preventive measures should have been taken before February 24 “to prevent Russia from unleashing a war.”
When I said “preventive strike,” in English it’s a preventive kick, not an attack. They’re different things. That’s why, when you’re speaking in English or in Ukrainian, the translation should be as faithful as possible, because Russians will always use it like they are now.
Zelensky said that he raised “the issue of preventive strikes, sanctions as strikes” even before the Russian invasion of Ukraine. After February 24, he says, “European society, and especially the UK,” realized that “they should have gotten involved, introduced sanctions, carried out a preventive strike” so that Russia would be afraid to start a war.
And now, when they discuss their sick ideas about nuclear weapons, I say: don’t give them a chance to speak about this even in their own society. They’re starting to prepare their own society. It’s very dangerous… They don’t know whether they’ll use them or not. I believe that it’s dangerous to even speak about it. That’s why I say you should launch a preventive strike, not an attack. That’s what I had in mind.
But Russians just translated these words as it suited them and started to repeat them everywhere. I had in mind sanctions. If they say “nuclear weapons” or even think about it, you should introduce sanctions. You have a nuclear sanctions package, Europe has had cause to introduce them – for example, after Russians occupied our nuclear power plant. That’s very dangerous. That’s what I have in mind.
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On October 6, the Kremlin’s press secretary, Dmitry Peskov, said he considered Zelensky’s remarks on a preventive strike against Russia to be “a call to start a world war with unpredictable and monstrous consequences.”
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