Aug 8, 2022 - World

Zelensky urges West to ban Russian travelers

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky speaks at a joint press conference with Lithuanian President Gitanas Nausda on July 28, 2022 in Kyiv, Ukraine. Photo: Alexey Furman/Getty Images

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has urged Western countries to ban all Russian travelers to deter Russia from annexing Ukrainian territory.

What he's saying: "The most important sanctions are to close the borders — because the Russians are taking away someone else’s land," Zelensky said in an interview with The Washington Post out Monday.

  • Zelensky said Russians should "live in their own world until they change their philosophy."
  • "They’ll understand then," he added. "They’ll say, 'This [war] has nothing to do with us. The whole population can’t be held responsible, can it?' It can. The population picked this government and they’re not fighting it, not arguing with it, not shouting at it."
  • "Don’t you want this isolation?" he said to the Russian people, per the Post. "You’re telling the whole world that it must live by your rules. Then go and live there. This is the only way to influence Putin."

The backdrop: National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby warned in late July that Russia appears to be laying the groundwork to annex the Ukrainian territory it is occupying.

  • Similar to its annexation of Crimea in 2014, Russia is installing proxy officials, who U.S. officials believe will arrange "sham referenda" to try to "claim annexation of sovereign Ukrainian territory," Kirby said.
  • Russia appears to be planning the annexation of Kherson, Zaporizhzhia and all of Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts, he added.
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