The Ukrainian president spoke with Le Figaro about his presidency, struggling Ukrainian reforms, the Biden administration, and prospects of reclaiming occupied territories in Dobnas and Crimea.

The president argued that the occupied regions of Ukraine face bleak future.

“For me, Crimea and Donbas have never left, these are definitely our territories. And they will not be happy without Ukraine. We see this in the territories where there is occupation – in Abkhazia, Transnistria, etc. I did not see any scientific breakthrough, cool businesses, skyscrapers of Hong Kong there. I did not see life there. That’s why I don’t see happiness there. And when people are unhappy, they leave that territory. So, it will be “dead” territory. It will be worse than Chornobyl. Because there are tourists even in Chornobyl. And these will be just “dead” regions, unfortunately”, said Zelensky.

In his view, life worsened for people in Crimea after Russia annexed the peninsula.

Zelensky said that “there are people in Crimea who once shouted that Russia would come and they would become a “pearl by the sea”. But nothing happened. It got worse, there is no tourism, no enterprises, no work, high prices, no water”.

“I know, many civilians live there as captives. But they consider themselves Ukrainians”, he said.