According to Ukrinform, he said this in an interview with The Washington Post.
Zelensky stressed that "today our partners are saying that war may start tomorrow if there is a powerful escalation on the Russian side, and then there will be powerful sanctions applied."
"But if we are talking about the sanctions policy and the probability of escalation, then the question is, why are you not introducing sanctions now rather than wait until after the escalation? […] I support imposing sanctions now. I asked one leader: 'Why do you support sanctions against Russia in case there is an invasion into Ukraine? Why do you need sanctions after we lose the whole territory of Ukraine?'" he said.
Zelensky stressed that sanctions are considered to be a preventive tool because they can be applied and then lifted. Zelensky noted that if there is an invasion by Russia, the West will impose sanctions on Russia after Ukraine might have lost part of its territory.
"Once you introduce sanctions, what will Russia do? […] [The Russians] will look at you and say: 'Listen, we can deal with this, we can continue as it was.' I think this is wrong," Zelensky said.
He stressed that Ukraine is ready for a dialogue.
"Let's have a dialogue with Russia. I'm asking the United States to help us to find a format. We support dialogue; we are against war," he said.
Zelensky also added that "if we are going to protect ourselves against one of the most powerful armies in the world, then this will be war." "And if this will be war, it's going to be a very strong war, and everyone will lose. Hundreds of thousands of lives will be lost. Ukraine will suffer; Russia will suffer; European countries adjacent to Ukraine will suffer; and the ones who are further away will be impacted by a migration crisis," Zelensky said.
He said that for Ukraine, the most important thing is to preserve its territory.
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