Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky told CNN that Ukraine is not willing to give up territory in the eastern part of the country to end the war with Russia, and Ukraine's military is prepared to fight Moscow's military in the Donbas region in a battle he says could influence the course of the entire war.
Zelensky said in an exclusive interview Friday with CNN's Jake Tapper from the office of the president in Kyiv that his country has no guarantee that Russia wouldn't try again to seize Kyiv if it is able to capture Donbas.
"This is why it is very important for us to not allow them, to stand our ground, because this battle ... it can influence the course of the whole war," Zelensky said.
"Because I don't trust the Russian military and Russian leadership," he continued. "That is why we understand that the fact that we fought them off and they left, and they were running away from Kyiv -- from the north, from Chernihiv and from that direction -- it doesn't mean if they are able to capture Donbas, they won't come further towards Kyiv."
Some more context: It is more than seven weeks into Russian President Vladimir Putin's attack on Ukraine. Ukraine's military has seen successes resisting Russia's offensive that have come as a surprise to US intelligence -- and a Kremlin that had planned for a quick and decisive victory.