Zelenskyy Warns Putin Could Cause World War III

"If Ukraine falls, what will happen in ten years? Just think about it. If [the Russians] reach Poland, what's next? A Third World War?" Zelenskyy told Scott Pelley in a 60 Minutes interview that aired Sunday.

Monday, September 18th 2023, 5:30 am

By: CBS News


President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says world order is at stake in the Ukraine war.

"If Ukraine falls, what will happen in ten years? Just think about it. If [the Russians] reach Poland, what's next? A Third World War?" Zelenskyy told Scott Pelley in a 60 Minutes interview that aired Sunday. "We're defending the values of the whole world. And these are Ukrainian people who are paying the highest price. We are truly fighting for our freedom, we are dying. We are not fiction, we are not a book. We are fighting for real with a nuclear state that threatens to destroy the world."

Zelenskyy on U.S. funding for Ukraine against Russia

Citing the roughly $70 billion the United States has contributed to Ukraine's war effort, Pelley asked Zelenskyy if he expected that level of support to continue.

"The United States of America [is] supporting Ukraine financially and I'm grateful for this," Zelenskyy said. "I just think they're not supporting only Ukraine. If Ukraine falls, Putin will surely go further. What will the United States of America do when Putin reaches the Baltic states? When he reaches the Polish border? He will. This is a lot of money. We have a lot of gratitude. What else must Ukraine do for everyone to measure our huge gratitude? We are dying in this war."

"What will it take?" Pelley asked, "Another $70 billion?"

"I don't have an answer," Zelenskyy answered, "The whole world [has to] decide whether we want to stop Putin, or whether we want to start the beginning of a world war. We can't change Putin. Russian society has [lost] the respect of the world. They elected him and re-elected him and raised a second Hitler. They did this. We cannot go back in time. But we can stop it here."

Zelenskyy on threats of nuclear war, 2024 U.S. election

Zelenskyy says Putin will use the threat of nuclear war to stoke instability in the United States and Europe.

"I think that he's going to continue threatening," Zelenskyy said. "He is waiting for the United States to become less stable. He thinks that's going to happen during the U.S. election. He will be looking for instability in Europe and the United States of America. He will use the risk of using nuclear weapons to fuel that [instability]. He will keep on threatening."

Uncertainty surrounding the upcoming U.S. presidential election concerns Zelenskyy. Although he says he hasn't received some military aide fast enough, he has been grateful for President Biden's support. 

Zelenskyy on Ukraine's slow counteroffensive, drone strikes in Russia

Zelenskyy admits progress has been slow in the counter-offensive, but says Ukrainian troops comprised mostly of draftees are moving forward. The 700-mile frontline has become an artillery duel with both Russians and Ukrainians firing 40,000 shells a day. Drone warfare has also slowed progress. 

"It's a difficult situation. I will be completely honest with you. We have the initiative. This is a plus," Zelenskyy said. "We stopped the Russian offensive and we moved onto a counter-offensive. And despite that, it's not very fast. It is important that we are moving forward every day and liberating territory."

"We need to liberate our territory as much as possible and move forward, even if it's less than [half a mile or] a hundred [yards] we must do it," Zelenskyy continued. "We mustn't give Putin a break."

Zelenskyy also commented on the drone strikes against Russia, which Ukraine doesn't officially acknowledge.

"You do know that we use our partners' weapons on the territory of Ukraine only," Zelenskyy said. "And this is true, but these are not punitive missions, such as they carry out killing civilians. Russia needs to know that wherever it is, whichever place they use for launching missiles to strike Ukraine, Ukraine has every moral right to attack those places. We are responding to them saying: 'Your sky is not as well protected, as you think.'"

With reference to the numerous non-military targets Russia has attacked, Pelley asked Zelenskyy what he thought Putin was trying to accomplish by killing civilians.

"To break [us]," Zelenskyy said. "And by choosing civilian targets, Putin wanted to achieve exactly this – to break [us]. This person who has made his way with such bloody actions, with everything he has said, cannot be trusted. There is no trust in such a person because he has not been a human being for a long time."

Zelenskyy is scheduled to travel to the U.S. this week to address the United Nations General Assembly and visit the White House and Congress.

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