President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky strongly believes that economic well-being will come Ukraine when this country overcomes poverty, corruption and brings an end to the ongoing war. “What does the country need to have a happy future? The answer is simple: to defeat its enemies. It is not only about geopolitics. I mean the enemies of our Ukrainian happiness. And these are the war, poverty, corruption and … jealousy”, said the President.

Speaking at the 16th annual forum “Yalta European Strategy” (YES), President Zelensky said, “Those servicemen who are bravely defending Ukraine have to return home as victors. We must end the war and restore the lost territories. I’ve told many times before that the only way to this is diplomacy. And sanctions are its powerful and effective weapon”. The forum dubbed “Happiness Now. New approaches to World in Crisis” was held September 12 to 14, in Kyiv. In his speech, the head of State stressed that sanctions as the effective instrument of diplomacy were the only way to end the war in Donbas and restore the territorial integrity of this country.

Zelensky also said, “I never tire of saying this to our international partners who help us a lot (I’m grateful for this), but sometimes they think of lifting sanctions. Are you losing money? Sorry for that. But we are losing people. You know, in modern world one has to pay taxes. And it is quite normal, especially when it comes to upholding order. Sanctions are in fact taxes that are needed to maintain world order. They are the peace tax, if you want. And until peace is restored in Donbas, sanctions should remain in force”.

In his speech, the President touched upon the topic of the importance of a peacekeeping force. In Donbas, a mission of peacekeepers should be deployed along the Russian-Ukrainian border, the President believes. As far as the Crimea is concerned, Ukraine is working on the formula of returning the peninsula. In his words, there are several formats and ideas of how to do it, but it is too early to disclose all the details.

Verkhovna Rada Chairman Dmytro Razumkov took part in the work of the YES. Addressing the forum, he said, “We are aware of challenges we face. First of all, it is the war in Donbas and, second, it is the war against corruption. Unfortunately, for many years the Ukrainian authorities have been trying to deal (or have been pretending to deal) with these two key problems”. At the same time, he believes that the parliamentary majority together with the MPs who are not part of the majority is able to change the State. “For many of us who have come to the Parliament today, it is the first chance to change the State. For the State, it could be the last chance. And we must use it”, Razumkov stressed.

On September 15, in his interview with the TSN television news program, U.S. Special Representative for Ukraine Negotiations, Kurt Volker, said that Western partners would not push Ukraine to have local elections in Donbas when its territory is still occupied by the Russian forces.

He went on to say that by continuing the occupation of and war in Donbas, Russia gets the result contrary to that which it wants to achieve. “I think there are reasons why Russia should leave Donbas. They don't really care about holding Donbas. They are playing cynically with human lives in order to influence Kyiv and keep Ukraine under Russia’s control. It is a mistake. Ukraine is stronger, more democratic and prosperous, more stable, more anti-Russian and pro-Western than it has ever been before. Russia is producing exactly the opposite of what it wants by continuing to occupy Donbas. That's the reason why Russia should want to end this, “he said in his interview.The diplomat mentioned that all participants in negotiations voiced their readiness to help Russia come out of the conflict in “an easy way”.

Volker added, “We – the French, Germans, Ukrainians – are all willing to help find a way to facilitate Russia's withdrawal and bring peace back to the occupied territory whenever Russia is ready to do that”.

The newspaper Holos Ukrainy