Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy on NBC News’s Meet the Press, November 5, 2023

Sunday’s Coverage: Zelenskiy Knocks Back Talk of Stalemate, Long-Term Russian Occupation

Map: Institute for the Study of War


Deputy Foreign Minister Emine Dzheppar said Ukraine is “deeply outraged” by Russia’s overnight attack on the Odesa Fine Arts Museum (see 0713 GMT).

The Museum is part of a UNESCO World Heritage site. Most of the collection had been removed during Russia’s invasion, and Odesa Governor Oleh Piper said, “Canvases and paintings from the current exhibition were not damaged.”

However, video showed damaged windows and doors and some paintings lying on the floor in the debris.

The Museum had more than 10,000 pieces of art before the war, with works by some of the best-known Russian and Ukrainian artists of the late-19th and early-20th century.


Ukraine’s grain exports have decreased by 31% compared with last year.

The Agriculture Ministry reported exports of 9.8 million tonnes in the July-June marketing season, versus 14.3 million tonnes in 2022.

Wheat exports have decreased by less than 10%, but corn, grain, and barley shipments have almost halved.

Ukraine is enduring a Russian blockade on its Black Sea and Danube River ports, although some ships are now using a “protected” corridor. The Russians are regularly attacking the ports with drones and missiles, damaging infrastructure including warehouses.


Ukraine Presidential Chief of Staff Andriy Yermak has pushed back on expressions of “war fatigue” — including last week by Italy Prime Minister Georgia Meloni in a call with Russian pranksters.

Yermak told POLITICO:

Even if there are people who feel this fatigue, I’m sure they don’t want to wake up in a world tomorrow where there will be less freedom and less security, and the consequences of this last for decades.

Think for a moment, if Britain in 1939 had felt tired of Poland, or if the U.S….felt tired of Britain, would there be such a thing as Poland today, Britain, or Europe as we see it now? We could not afford fatigue then or now. That will repeat itself for sure if these people with “fatigue” stop supporting Ukraine.

Yermak assured that Ukraine “will never live in the frozen conflict mode”.


The Ukraine Air Force says it downed two Russian Kh-59 missiles and 15 of 22 attack drones overnight.

Russia also fired an Iskander-M ballistic missile, an Onyx anti-ship missile, and 2 Kh-31 guided missiles. The assault struck port infrastructure in the Odesa region — warehouses, loading equipment, and trucks carrying grain — and civil infrastructure in the Kherson region.

One of the attacks damaged the Odesa Fine Arts Museum, a day before the celebration of its 124th birthday.

Odesa Mayor Hennadii Trukhanov said, “Just a step here or there, and we could have lost many of our world-famous pieces of art and exhibits. Fortunately, this did not happen.”

Five people in the city were injured by shrapnel.


Deputy Prime Minister Olga Stefanishyna has assured that Ukraine will complete the necessary reforms to join the European Union within two years.

The European Commission is expected to announce on Wednesday if negotiations will begin next month over Ukraine’s accession.

“We do not want any discounts because of the war,” Stefanishyna said. “The two-year timeline we are talking about is just to make sure that we are prepared for membership in terms of legal approximation, of standards and rules and obligations of the directives.”

Everybody is united, from the President to every local governor, about two purposes: winning the war and making sure the next day after the victory we are not beginning the process of EU membership but we are closing [it].

Alongside Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy in Kyiv on Saturday, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen praised “excellent progress”, saying the Ukrainians have “reached many milestones” as “the result of hard work”.

She looked to further reforms: “If this happens, and I am confident, Ukraine can reach its ambitious goal of moving to the next stage of the accession process.”

Last week Germany uggested that integration of Ukraine and others, including Kyiv’s neighbor Moldova, into the EU could be accelerated with membership benefits granted long before accession. These would include some single market access and observer status at leadership summits.

ORIGINAL ENTRY: In a passionate interview on US television, Ukraine President Volodomyr Zelenskiy has upheld the country’s resistance to Vladimir Putin’s 20-month invasion, and the duty to liberate territory occupied by Russia.

Zelenskiy’s discussion with NBC News’s Meet the Press was broadcast on Sunday, a day after he knocked back talk of “statemate” — including by his own military commander — and pressure on Kyiv to accept a settlement in which Russia retains occupied areas.

The President acknowledged difficulties for Ukraine’s five-month counter-offensive because of Russia’s landmines and its “domination in the air”. He spoke of the fatigue in Ukraine and beyond.

Yes, a lot of people in the world are tired. Of course. It’s understandable. Somebody tired on the battlefield, somebody tired in the works, and somebody tired abroad. They want to come back home to their husbands, to their soldiers, to these guys, women, and children….Yes, of course, because this is a long war.

But he pointed to Ukraine’s unexpected survival against the sudden Russian assault, including on the capital Kyiv, in February 2022:

On the 24th of February when Russia invaded our cities, country, our land, our families, and they attacked all of us, the world gave us three days. Some European countries who really believed in us, they said one month….

Now, it’s almost two years [later]. Now, the initiative is in our hands.

He spoke of current success, including against Russia’s Navy.

We really defend our Black Sea, and the Russian fleet is being destroyed by our ammunition. And now, Russia doesn’t control [the Black Sea]….That was a signal — a signal that we can manage this war even against such a terrorist organization like Kremlin.

The Ukrainian leader again rejected concession of the 18% of Ukraine held by Russia, dismissing talk of pressure from US officials to do so.

“The President of the United States and Congress…know that I am not ready to speak with the terrorists because their word is nothing. Nothing. We can’t trust terrorists because terrorists always come back, always come back,” Zelensky said.

He concluded:

The war takes the best of us, the best heroes, the best men, women, children. That’s it. But we are not ready to give our freedom to this fucking terrorist Putin. That’s it. That’s why we are fighting. That’s it.