Ukrainian leader wants a year-long prohibition on travelers and energy imports
Calling the current anti-Russian sanctions "weak," Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky told the Washington Post on Monday that the West must impose a full embargo on all energy imports from Russia and a travel ban on all Russians for at least a year.
Interviewed inside his fortified office in Kiev, Zelensky told the Post that "the most important sanctions are to close the borders - because the Russians are taking away someone else's land." Russians should "live in their own world until they change their philosophy."
"Whichever kind of Russian ... make them go to Russia," he said, according to the paper, arguing that collective punishment was the only way. "They'll understand then. 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."
The Ukrainian leader insisted that this was "the only way to influence" Russian President Vladimir Putin. Speaking to the Post as if he were addressing the Russian public, he added, "You're telling the whole world that it must live by your rules. Then go and live there."
The US and its allies - Canada, EU, Japan, South Korea and Australia - have embargoed hundreds of Russian individuals, companies and organizations over what they call an "invasion" of Ukraine. By April this year, Russia had become the most sanctioned country in the world, surpassing Iran, Venezuela, Myanmar, and Cuba combined.
US President Joe Biden claimed that the embargo would wreck the Russian economy, only to later blame Putin for US inflation and skyrocketing gas prices.
Zelensky's interview came as the White House announced it was sending another $1 billion worth of weapons and military supplies to Kiev, along with $4.5 billion in cash to prop up the Ukrainian government.
He vowed that as soon as Ukraine gets "enough forces and means, we're going to de-occupy all of our territories."
Russia sent troops into Ukraine on February 24, citing Kiev's failure to implement the Minsk agreements, designed to give the regions of Donetsk and Lugansk special status within the Ukrainian state. The protocols, brokered by Germany and France, were first signed in 2014. Former Ukrainian president Pyotr Poroshenko has since admitted that Kiev's main goal was to use the ceasefire to buy time and "create powerful armed forces."
In February 2022, the Kremlin recognized the Donbass republics as independent states and demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join any Western military bloc. Kiev insists the Russian offensive was completely unprovoked.