Ukraine says Zelenskyy’s ‘preventive strike’ call misinterpreted as Moscow fumes

EuroActiv Politico News

Ukraine went into damage control mode after remarks by President Volodymyr Zelenskyy were interpreted as him calling for the West to take “preventive strikes” against Russia, prompting a fierce response from Moscow.

Zelenskyy spoke Thursday via video link to the Sydney-based Lowy Institute, saying through an interpreter that to deter the use of nuclear weapons by Russia, NATO and the international community must take “preventive strikes,” before the interpreter corrected themself to say “preventive action.”

“Waiting for the nuclear strikes first and then to say ‘what’s going to happen to them.’ No! There is a need to review the way the pressure is being exerted. So there is a need to review this procedure, so to say,” he said.

Moscow responded to the term “strikes,” with Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov saying the remarks were “nothing else than a call to start a world war,” while Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova called Zelenskyy a “monster.”

Zelenskyy’s spokesman Sergii Nykyforov later clarified in a Facebook post that the Ukrainian president was referring to economic sanctions, which he felt should have been imposed by the West before Russia invaded Ukraine. Nykyforov said Zelenskyy meant “it was necessary to take preventive measures to prevent Russia from unleashing the war,” adding that Zelenskyy was talking about “preventive [economic] sanctions.”

The spokesman added that “only the terrorist state, Russia” blackmails the world and has hinted “in every possible way at the use of nuclear weapons,” saying Ukraine would never make such calls.

Shortly after Zelenskyy’s remarks at the Australian think tank, Russia again attacked the city of Zaporizhzhia, which is the area where Europe’s biggest power plant is located.

Meanwhile, U.S. President Joe Biden warned about the escalating threat of nuclear attacks by Russia at a Democratic fundraiser on Thursday night.