(NewsNation) — Nearly 10 months into a brutal war that has displaced millions and killed thousands of Ukrainians, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy tells NewsNation he remains confident Western allies will continue to support his country’s defense, even as some Republicans signal otherwise.
The United States has committed $20 billion in military aid for Ukraine, providing small arms, ammunition and missile defense systems, among other equipment. Used together with defense assistance from European countries, Ukrainian forces have been able to fend off an initial invasion and conduct counteroffensives to regain territory since the war began Feb. 24.
Congress is considering another $44.9 billion as part of a larger spending bill — which would extend U.S. support beyond the next year — authorized before the Republicans take control of the House in January.
Support for funding has begun to erode among congressional Republicans. Already, at least 57 have voted against aid packages, and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said earlier this year there would be no “blank check” for Ukraine when his party takes control of the House in January.
In an interview with NewsNation’s Chris Cuomo, Zelenskyy said despite the comments from what has so far been a minority, he remains confident Republicans will back future military aid for Ukraine.
“Politics is politics, and war for freedom is a different case,” Zelenskyy told Cuomo. “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.”
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 told Cuomo. “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.”
The Biden administration has sought to keep up public support for Ukraine, as well as head off divides with other European allies. The war has placed a significant strain on countries like Germany that rely heavily on Russian oil and natural gas, supplies that were cut off or heavily reduced as part of sanctions against Russia.
Zelenskyy became a figure of public prominence immediately after the war began, most notably when he recorded a video standing in the middle of Kyiv, telling Ukrainians he was staying to help defend the country.
“This magazine cover is not my face, but the face of the Ukrainian people,” Zelenskyy told Cuomo. “It’s about the nation’s strength, about ordinary people, civilians. This is the face of the Ukrainian people today.”
As winter sets in and Ukrainians struggle for food, water and electricity, Zelenskyy’ has one main’s biggest message for the American people: don’t forget about the Ukrainian people.
“It’s a really big mistake to think that this war is over,” he said. “…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.”