Zelensky failed to prepare Ukraine for war and will ‘pay for his mistakes’, says Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko

By Thomas Brooke
3 Min Read

Volodymyr Zelensky failed to adequately prepare Ukraine for the ongoing conflict with Russia and will pay for his mistakes, Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko has said in a blistering attack on his country’s president.

In a wide-ranging interview with Swiss news outlet 20 Minuten, the former heavyweight boxing champion-turned-politician slammed Ukraine’s war-time leader for a litany of errors that allowed Russia to take the upper hand in the first few months of the conflict and accused Zelensky of being slow to react to Russian attacks on the Ukrainian capital.

Asked whether he was surprised to see President Zelensky’s popularity across the country declining, Klitschko replied, “No. People see who is effective and who is not, and there were and are many expectations. Zelensky is paying for the mistakes he made.”

“People wonder why we weren’t better prepared for this war,” he told the Swiss journalist Ann Guenter, adding that Zelensky had buried his head in the sand and “denied until the end that it would happen.”

He also questioned “why it was possible that the Russians were able to reach Kyiv so quickly” and claimed that “too much information” was provided by the Ukrainian president “that didn’t match reality.”

The Kyiv mayor responded to criticism that not all bomb shelters in the Ukrainian capital had been accessible to the public in the past, and said this had been the “full responsibility” of the president.

Despite his criticism, Klitschko insisted that Ukrainians must continue to back Zelensky, saying the president “has an important function today and we must support him until the end of the war.”

He warned, however, that Zelensky “will pay” for his failures during the inevitable post-war inquest to follow.

Asked whether he, himself, had any aspirations to succeed Zelensky as president of Ukraine, Klitschko kept his cards close to his chest, insisting now was not the time for such talk.

“It would be stupid to think about it today. Today the only question is whether Ukraine continues to exist at all,” he told the Swiss news outlet.

“Putin does not accept Ukraine as an independent country, that is no secret. He says Ukraine is part of the Russian Empire. We fight for our freedom and independence.

“At the same time, there is already trench warfare among our politicians — in a country that is shaky in its existence. This is simply stupid. So talking about my political ambitions now wouldn’t be wise,” he added.

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