The mayor of kyiv: “When the last Russian soldier leaves the Ukrainian territory, we will be ready to talk about a solution” | International
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Four ideas were launched this Tuesday by the mayor of kyiv, Vitali Klitschko, on his second visit to Barcelona in just two months. The trip coincided with the intervention of President Volodímir Zelenski, before the G-20 and with the bombardment that affected various buildings in kyiv starting at noon. Klitschko highlighted several issues. One, there is nothing to talk about with Russia until “the last soldier leaves Ukrainian territory.” Two, Putin’s attack on energy infrastructure is “a genocide” that “does not respect the international rules of war,” such as not attacking the civilian population. Three, they are prepared for the cold war. And four, the European Union is risking its future in this invasion. In addition to the need to report on the conflict: “The media today is much more important than tanks, planes or bullets, they are the main weapon.”
If Klitschko visited Barcelona in September because kyiv will be the guest city at the 2023 festival, now he has done so to participate in the Smart City Expo, a technology hall applied to cities and their mobility. In the morning, he explained at Fira de Barcelona the digitization of his city since 2015 and how the kyiv mobile application is proving useful during the invasion of Russia. “Technology saves lives”, he assured about features such as warnings to go to shelters or check updated maps. He repeated the idea that the Russian invasion is “genocide” and assured that 40% of critical energy infrastructures have been damaged at the gates of winter, when temperatures reach 30 degrees below zero.
At noon, the mayor of kyiv had a private meeting with the mayoress of Barcelona, Ada Colau. He then had interviews with various media outlets. Halfway through the first, he received a notice that his city was under missile attack. In the pomposity of the main hall of the City Hall, Klitschko —two meters tall, face that betrays that he was a boxer and shirt sleeves—, his chief of staff and other companions spoke on the phone with very serious faces, but in low voices.
The interviews led to a brief meeting, during which the mayor kept an eye on his mobile screen and was once again interrupted by a call. “Sorry, I don’t have more time. I have to fly back to Ukraine”, he initially apologized after reporting that the missile attack had hit residential buildings with several victims, and although at the time he did not know the exact number of deaths and injuries. Despite the tension, he did not lose his cool or raise his voice.
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Asked by the voices of the EU and the Pentagon about the need to negotiate with Russia and whether the Ukrainian leadership would be willing without the withdrawal of Russian soldiers from the country’s territory, he replied: “When the last Russian soldier leaves Ukrainian territory, we will be ready to talk about a solution. Right now, I don’t see the reason to talk to them and find some compromise, while they occupy Ukraine.” On the case of the Crimean peninsula, illegally annexed by Russia in 2014, he noted: “Crimea was always Ukraine. No one in the world accepts that it is part of Russia.” “The Russians are going as far as they can, it is the target, not Crimea. The target is kyiv, the capital of Ukraine. Putin talks about it openly to rebuild the Soviet empire,” he said. “Unity with Ukraine is the key to peace in Europe,” he added.
He also assured that the war is not going well for Russia: “Putin is not successful on the battlefield, that is why he tries to blackmail by shooting missiles at civilians, trying to depress people, we do not have depression. We are pissed off and ready to fight and defend our homes.”
Regarding the possible cold war and if it can generate a new wave of refugees to the west of the country or to countries of the European Union, or if they have plans to evacuate kyiv, the mayor assured: “We calculate any scenario and also the worst case . And we have to be prepared for each case and we hope that it doesn’t happen. Being prepared is very important…”. At that moment they interrupted him again. “Forgive me.” A minute of silence that he allowed even a refrigeration machine to be heard. And then: “People from our city have been killed by a missile attack. I will try to fly as soon as possible. It is important. A couple more questions and I have to go.”
The mayor ended by thanking the attention and the importance of being heard. “We don’t want to give up. We fight for the future of our children. We are motivated and we will win this war. They ask how long will this senseless war last? Staying with Ukraine is key to peace and freedom and to the stability of Europe.” And another warning: “The Russians go as far as they are allowed to go.”
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