(NewsNation) — Ahead of his visit to Washington D.C., Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy joined NewsNation’s Chris Cuomo this week for a one-on-one interview, reiterating that U.S. support was key for his country to have a chance of winning the war against Russia.
“The world is very fragile, and Russia’s president’s wishes are very ambitious. But as long as Ukraine is holding up, the world is safe,” he said.
More than 300 days have passed since Russia invaded Ukraine. Zelenskyy said part of the reason his country has fought dauntlessly is because of the aid it has received from other countries, including the United States.
In his interview, Zelenskyy talked about that support, and if he fears it could change with a new political power in control of the House of Representatives.
In response to some questions, Zelenskyy spoke to Cuomo with the help of a translator. Other times, he answered questions directly in English.
He also explained why it’s important for the world not to forget that the war is still ongoing.
The interview was conducted in the early hours of Monday, and parts were aired on “CUOMO” Tuesday evening. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Cuomo: Mr. President, thank you for joining us. I know the security situation is very sensitive. There were massive bombings in Kyiv just around the time of this interview. What can you tell us?
Zelenskyy (via a translator): As for today, there are no surprises. Russian aggression is still continuing. There were 34 strikes with our Iranian drones on and electrical grid of our country, as well as the capital Kyiv and the Kyiv region. The electrical crews are still working on those issues, as well as the water supply or heat for civilians, but we’re trying to deal with those challenges.
Cuomo: What do you know about the number of casualties from today’s bombings? And how much of the country is without power?
Zelenskyy (via a translator): There are injured but no casualties for now. The reason I’m saying “for now” is because the rescue crews are working under the rubble of those buildings, where our national emergency response teams are working. We will be able to tell the exact number of casualties after the rescues are complete only once they clear the scene.
In general, I could say that something like this is happening on a daily basis. Russian artillery is striking Kherson. Right after we occupied the region they kept striking. They pushed back to the other side of the Dnipro River bank and that’s when they started to strike Kherson again. Over there, dozens are killed every day. Unfortunately, this is an ongoing tragedy.
Cuomo: How important are the U.S. Patriot missiles in defending against these attacks? And what do you understand about how soon they will get to you?
Zelenskyy (via a translator): The Patriot system is the most effective, those are the best ones. We talked to President Biden, and we’re working through this issue. Everything is complicated, however, I know that both of our countries are working closely so that Ukraine has a chance to have one of the most powerful and modern air defense systems.
Cuomo: Do you have any sense of timing?
Zelenskyy (via a translator): Honestly, we would have liked to receive them yesterday, maybe even the day before yesterday. It would be best not to have those strikes at all, to have prevented them in the first place. But today, we believe the sooner the better. We’re working just on that, and I’m thinking that President Biden and I can come to a resolution on this.
Cuomo: Do you still believe that Ukraine is only the first and that people who think they are safe right now may not be if Ukraine does not win this war?
Zelenskyy (via a translator): We’re like a fortress, a wall in Russia’s way. They are ambitious people, but I cannot call them human beings, to be honest. Forgive me, but what they’re doing to our people is not humane. That is why I’m sure that Europe is dependent on how strong we are. The world is very fragile, and Russia’s president’s wishes are very ambitious. But as long as Ukraine is holding up, the world is safe. I’m sure that in their ambitions they see Moldova and other countries of the former Soviet Union. And I’m sure Poland, Romania and other countries where the Soviets were predominant.
Cuomo: Why do you say Ukraine will not attack inside the Russian border, even though you are being attacked by Russia?
Zelenskyy (via a translator): We are not interested in making strikes inside Russian territory. We’re defending ourselves, we’re not offensive against Russia. We’re only offensive against them on our territory. We’re occupying our territories according to international law. This war today is on our territory only, and Donbas and Crimea are part of Ukraine. We’re fighting only for what is ours.
Cuomo: What do you want people to know about how much is still at risk?
Zelenskyy (answering in English): My straight message is it’s really a big mistake to think that this war is over. That is a big mistake because our soldiers are great people, as well as the people who work in the electricity industry, who are against (Russian forces) each day, against Iranian drones and lose their lives. We are still losing our people, we lose Ukrainians. You can’t say that the war is over because Russia, the Kremlin and its president always want to come back because it’s his ambitious plan. I don’t think that it’s a healthy plan.
So we have to be strong. We can’t be strong without the wall. We can’t be strong without the United States, President Biden, as well as Congress’ two parties’ support. Without Americans — just ordinary people — without their understanding of what’s going on in Ukraine, we will not win. It will be very difficult, it will be too long. In a very long war, it’s difficult to find who is the winner when you lose people each day. We want peace, and that’s why we are fighting for our houses, our children, and our families. If you really want to understand what’s going on in Ukraine, please come and see. We still fight, and it’s still difficult for us but we are staying strong.
Cuomo: Are you worried that when the Republicans take over in the United States Congress, Ukraine may not receive the same support it is getting now?
Zelenskyy (answering in English): Of course, everybody in Ukraine worries about it, because we need support. But, I think politics is politics, and war for freedom is a different case. It’s not about elections, it’s something more important, more ambitious for the next generations. So we can’t speak politically about the war in Ukraine. You can do it during the elections. But now everything is over. I think and I really believe that Ukraine will have bipartisan support. I think Republicans will support us, as we got from the Democratic Party.
Cuomo: Do you see an end to the war in sight?
Zelenskyy (via a translator): Of course. I’m confident if we’re consistent and strong — even if there are moments of stagnation and pauses in the war — I’m confident if we’re tough, we will be moving forward believing in our victory. And I think Russian leaders, troops and military contractors would not be able to handle it. It is essential that Ukraine has world support. That’s very important.