Volodymyr Zelenskyy held a press conference on the results of the year. Main theses

Oleksandra Opanasenko

On December 19, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy held a press conference on the results of the year. It lasted a little more than two hours. Here are the main theses.

Conflict with Zaluzhny

President Volodymyr Zelenskyi said that he has a working relationship with the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces Valery Zaluzhny. Zelensky refused to develop the topic of the conflict and to help anyone in this.

"I believe that we can afford to live in Ukraine with a daily result. If each of us is ready to bring this result, it is not a sacrifice. I think itʼs an honor to be chairman, and itʼs an honor to be president. I donʼt get tired, I donʼt give up. It is in our words, in our actions," he added.


The General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine and Commander-in-Chief Valery Zaluzhnyi submitted a request for the mobilization of 450,000 to 500,000 people.

"They asked about the protection of our state and potential counteroffensive actions... They offered to mobilize an additional 450,000-500,000 people. This is a very serious number. I said that I need more arguments," said President Zelensky. The mobilization of 450,000 to 500,000 people will cost the state 500 billion hryvnias.

In response to a question about the draft law on the mobilization of people younger than 27 and women, Zelenskyi said:

"Women — no. As for the lowering of the mobilization age to 25 years — if there is an argument. Today I see that it is necessary. I agree with that."

Aid from the USA

The President is sure that the partners will not let Ukraine down. US aid is a matter of time.

"We are working on a powerful number. Our American partners should know that we expect this help. They know the details, what we need the funds for, what impact they will have, how it will affect the "transfer of certain dates". I think I have found an understanding with President Joe Biden and with the senators. We met with both parties," Zelenskyi said.

Zelenskyi added that the lack of aviation from the allies affected the progress of the counteroffensive in the south, but Ukraine is working on additional military assistance.

The end of the war

President Volodymyr Zelenskyi said that no one can say exactly when Russiaʼs war against Ukraine will end.

"I donʼt think anyone knows the answer. Even those respectable people — commanders, our Western partners — when they say that the war will last for many years — they do not know. This is a dialogue, these are thoughts. Opinions very often differ from reality," he said.

Zelensky added that when Russian President Vladimir Putin said about the capture of Ukraine "in three days" — these were also thoughts. The President noted that war, victory, defeat or stagnation depend on many decisions, risks and directions.

Ukraine will not revise the strategy regarding exit to the borders of 1991. According to the Constitution, these are lands of Ukraine.

Exchange of prisoners

The process of exchanging prisoners with Russia is complicated, but work continues to return Ukrainian prisoners of war.

"The process is complicated. This track [prisoner exchange] is working, it has really slowed down due to reasons from the Russian Federation. But there are corresponding very specific reasons. The track will open. Right now working on a good enough number of our boys to bring them back. God willing, it will work. This is the first. Secondly, as for civilians, if we are talking about the trek with children, then there is a small number, but nevertheless they are returning little by little, Qatar is helping us here," Zelenskyi said.

The head of state also thanked Palestine, Israel and Qatar, which helped evacuate Ukrainians from Gaza. At the same time, the President noted that the return of Crimeans from Russian captivity is practically not happening at the moment.

The situation at the frontline

"Russia has not achieved a single result, a single goal for this year, 2023. This proves the fact that the messages of the Kremlin have not changed, that their "special operations" goals are unchanged. And the goals were clear: the occupation of Ukraine, access to the administrative borders of the Ukrainian Donbass. They did not achieve these goals, so there is nothing to talk about defeat," Zelenskyi said.

Production of drones

In 2024, Ukraine plans to produce a million drones and increase artillery production.

"I really donʼt like it when we still have a bureaucratic Soviet process in logistics. For example, when 26,000 drones were in storage without reaching the front. It was very loud at Stavka. There can be no such pauses," Zelensky emphasized.

He promised that next year Ukraine will produce a million drones. As for artillery, the head of state noted that its production will also increase.

Reduction of expenses of the Cabinet of Ministers

Today, the expenses of government officials are being cut as much as possible, but it is impossible to dismiss everyone — it will be difficult to manage the state. Zelensky wants to reduce the size of the government and its expenses. He cannot dissolve the parliament, because it is forbidden to hold elections during wartime.

"We are reducing government spending, and I am working to make the government smaller. If there are no people there at all, it will be difficult for us to manage the state. Regarding the association of "elites": I am told that they should be replaced by "technocrats". Suggest me who is ready to become the prime minister today," Zelensky said.

Fight against corruption

President Volodymyr Zelenskyi said that he cannot dissolve the Verkhovna Rada during the war, despite the fact that corruption is being exposed among the current deputies. However, he promised fair sentences.

The president said that he cannot reduce his team: "I have a small team, 5-6 managers. [If we cut back], we will become weaker with you — there will be less air defense, less aid, I canʼt afford it."

At the same time, he emphasized that peopleʼs deputies should be engaged exclusively in their work and be moral authorities. Although he admitted that this is not happening.

Conflict with Poland

Zelensky admitted that there was a conflict with Poland over grain. Ukraine lost hundreds of millions of dollars and part of the crop. Ukraine cannot compromise on this issue — it is a matter of survival.

“This is not business during wartime, this is survival. We did not have the Black Sea Corridor through which grain could be safely exported. We had problems with Slovakia, Romania, Hungary and our closest friend Poland. What is left for us if we donʼt have the sea? From April to September it was very difficult. We lost hundreds of millions of dollars. We began to lose political relations. I protect the interests of my country during the war. I believe that the new Polish government will unlock the artificial blockade," the president said.

The President believes that Ukraine will improve relations with the new government of Donald Tusk.

War in the Middle East

The war in the Middle East affected aid to Ukraine. This is Russiaʼs diplomatic success because the worldʼs attention was scattered on two fronts — in Ukraine and Israel.

"The war is affecting aid to Ukraine, the attention of the world community is being defocused. This has a bad effect on the stability of Ukraine. We must understand that we have a full-scale war going on. Russiaʼs diplomatic successes also played a role, as a result of its influence, some countries began to hesitate whether to help us," Zelenskyy said.

President Zelensky emphasized that the deaths of people in the Gaza Strip due to Israelʼs actions cannot be compared with the deaths of Ukrainians due to the Russians.

"We recognize the policy of two states — Israel and Palestine [...]. But the Russian occupation and invasion of Ukraine did not begin with a terrorist attack by people with Ukrainian citizenship on the territory of Russia," the president explained.

New Patriot air defense systems

This winter, Ukraine will be protected by several additional Western Patriot and NASAMS air defense systems. The president cannot yet disclose their exact number.

"This winter is different. It is also with challenges, with losses, unfortunately, but still with smaller ones. Every month we become more powerful. I had a business trip with my team. "Several, I wonʼt say how many, new Patriot systems will be in Ukraine to protect our country in the winter," Zelenskyy said.