Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said he was worried at the prospect of Donald Trump returning to the White House, branding Trump's claim that he could stop Ukraine's war with Russia in 24 hours as “very dangerous.”
In an interview with the U.K.'s Channel 4 News that aired Friday, Zelenskyy invited the former president and front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination to visit Kyiv, but only if Trump delivers on his promise.
“Donald Trump, I invite you to Ukraine, to Kyiv. If you can stop the war during 24 hours, I think it will be enough to come,” Zelenskyy said.
Trump campaign spokesman Steven Cheung did not respond to a message seeking comment Saturday.
The Ukrainian leader also shared his concern about the U.S. taking unilateral action that failed to consider Ukraine's perspective, noting the dearth of details around Trump's “peace plan.”
Zelenskyy described the former president's rhetoric as “very dangerous” and appeared apprehensive that Trump's idea of a negotiated solution might involve Ukraine making major concessions to Russia.
“(Trump) is going to make decisions on his own, without … I’m not even talking about Russia, but without both sides, without us," Zelenskyy said. “If he says this publicly, that's a little scary. I've seen a lot, a lot of victims, but that's really making me a bit stressed.”
He added: “Because even if his idea (for ending the war) - that no one has heard yet - doesn’t work for us, for our people, he will do anything to implement his idea anyway. And this worries me a little.”
Trump has repeatedly insisted that he is well-positioned to negotiate an end to the war that has raged for almost two years, saying he has a good relationship with both Russian and Ukrainian leaders. Throughout his political career, he has frequently lavished praise on Russian President Vladimir Putin, including after Moscow's February 2022 invasion of Ukraine.
At a campaign rally in Georgia just days after Russian tanks moved into Ukraine, Trump described Putin as a “smart” political player and expressed admiration for Russia's swift takeover of a vast, “great piece of land" at the cost of what he suggested were relatively minor sanctions.
The U.S. House of Representatives impeached Trump when he was president, alleging he pressured Zelenskyy to pursue a politically motivated probe that might hurt Joe Biden’s chance to win the 2020 presidential election while withholding $400 million in military aid that Congress approved to help Ukraine confront Russian-backed separatists in the country's east.
The Senate acquitted Trump of the impeachment charges.
Elsewhere, the head of the U.N. atomic watchdog on Saturday warned that mines had been re-planted around the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, Europe’s largest, just months after a team of international inspectors reported on their removal.
International Atomic Energy Agency chief Rafael Grossi cautioned that the presence of mines in the plant's buffer zone, between its internal and external fences, is “inconsistent” with the agency’s safety standards, according to a readout published on the organization’s website. The readout added that an IAEA team dispatched to monitor the plant's safety had previously identified mines in the same location, but that these were removed last November.
The head of Ukraine’s state nuclear company on Saturday described the alleged planting of mines as “another crime” by Russian forces that have occupied the Zaporizhzhia plant since the early weeks of the war.
In a Telegram update, Petro Kotin of Energoatom said that the situation at the plant “will remain fragile and dangerous as long as the Russians remain there.”
The IAEA has repeatedly expressed concern that the war could cause a potential radiation leak from the facility, which is one of world’s 10 biggest nuclear power stations. The plant’s six reactors have been shut down for months, but it still needs power and qualified staff to operate crucial cooling systems and other safety features.
Also on Saturday, Russian forces shelled the southern Ukrainian town of Huliaipole, wounding a local resident as he stood in his yard, local Gov. Yuriy Malashko wrote on Telegram.
Earlier that day, regional Ukrainian officials reported that one civilian was killed and three more suffered wounds as Russian forces on Friday and overnight shelled the southern Kherson region.
In southern Russia, close to the Ukrainian border, an exploding drone slammed into a gas pipeline on the outskirts of the city of Belgorod, regional Gov. Vyacheslav Gladkov reported on Telegram. Gladkov said Ukraine was responsible for the attack, and added that no one was hurt.
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