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Zelensky says Donbas residents will have harder time reintegrating than Crimea residents after Ukraine reclaims occupied territories

Source: Meduza

During a meeting with university students in the city of Mykolaiv on Thursday, Volodymyr Zelensky said he believes that residents of the occupied Donbas region will be more difficult to “mentally” return to Ukraine than residents of Crimea.

It’s possible, the president acknowledged, that Ukraine will regain the territory currently occupied by the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk “people’s republics” sooner than it regains the loyalty of the people who live there.

My partners have told me: it will be almost impossible for you to retake Crimea, and very difficult to retake the Donbas. In my opinion, if we’re talking about people, territories come with people. If the people don’t want it, it will be very difficult…

And even now, when Russia is waging war against us, the most fervent separatists are standing their ground; the Russians are fleeing, but these people are standing firm. This, too, says something. There haven’t been any combat in Crimea, so I believe that Crimea is eagerly awaiting its return. As for the Donbas, it’s also awaiting us, but it’s going to be very tough, because a significant portion of that territory has been occupied and heavily militarized.

The Ukrainian authorities have repeatedly said that the war with Russia can only end once Russia’s troops have completely withdrawn from Ukraine, including the Ukrainian territories that Moscow has annexed.

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