“It’s a really big mistake to think that this war is over,” Zelenskyy told NewsNation’s Chris Cuomo ahead of his visit to the United States on Wednesday.
Earlier this month, TIME Magazine named Zelenskyy and “the spirit of Ukraine” its 2022 person of the year, calling the decision “the most clear-cut in memory.”
When asked about the honor, the Ukrainian president pointed to the bravery of his people and said it’s a sign their voices are being heard.
“The cover of the magazine is not just my face, it’s the face of the people,” said Zelenskyy.
Ukraine’s president told Cuomo he is grateful for the ongoing support from the United States, which he says is crucial to the broader war effort.
So far, the U.S. has provided $68 billion in aid to Ukraine. Much of that has come in the form of advanced weapons like Stinger missiles and Kamikaze drones but also humanitarian relief like supplies and transportation.
“Without Americans — just ordinary people — without their understanding what’s going on in Ukraine, we will not win,” said Zelenskyy.
In November, the White House requested an additional $37.7 billion from Congress, although it remains to be seen whether that request will be granted as the American economy heads toward a possible recession.
Most recently, President Joe Biden announced the U.S. would provide Ukraine with Patriot missile defense systems, which are used by allies to guard against potential strikes by Iran, Somalia and North Korea. Russian President Vladimir Putin said the surface-to-air missile systems could be targets when they arrive.
“The Patriot system is the most effective. Those are the best ones,” Zelenskyy said. “I know that both of our countries are working closely to make sure Ukraine has a chance to have one of the most powerful and modern air defense systems.”
This comes ahead of Zelenskyy’s expected visit to the White House Wednesday. The package, including the Patriot missiles, is expected to cost $1.8 billion.
Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA.), who is expected to be the next Speaker of the House, has already indicated that Republicans won’t write a “blank check” for Ukraine.
In the meantime, the scale of the humanitarian crisis continues to grow. Almost 8 million refugees have fled the country since Putin’s army invaded in February.
That invasion has slowed in recent months but Zelenskyy said Ukraine continues to fight a “defensive war.” He maintained that he has no interest in invading Russia beyond reclaiming lost Ukrainian territory.
“We fight for peace, not for war — it’s two different emotions,” he said.
This week, dozens gathered in the Ukrainian capital Kyiv, lighting what local Jewish leaders are calling Europe’s tallest menorah to mark the start of Hannukah.
Zelenskyy, who is Jewish, said the only thing he wants is a Ukrainian victory this holiday season.