Letterman's Next Guest Definitely Needs No Introduction

Netflix talk show host talks with Ukrainian president Zelensky deep underground in Kyiv's metro
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 13, 2022 7:31 AM CST

Volodymyr Zelensky doesn't have much time on his hands these days as he continues to lead Ukraine through its fight against Russian forces. But he made time to sit down with David Letterman in late October, "300 feet underground on an active subway platform in Kyiv," for the latest installation of Letterman's Netflix show, My Next Guest Needs No Introduction, an episode that began streaming on Monday. With trains chugging by them as they spoke in front of an audience of Ukrainian soldiers and citizens, Letterman asked the 44-year-old leader, "What should we do?" as air raid sirens suddenly started blaring outside. "Nothing," Zelensky replied, as seen in a trailer for the episode. "In any other circumstance, that wouldn't be reassuring, but here with you, I feel reassured," Letterman laughed.

Zelensky told Letterman that "war has become a habit" in his country, with Ukrainians now accustomed to the sights and sounds of the invasion, which he calls "unfortunate." "War shouldn't be a habit," he noted. He said that the sirens are a constant reminder that "the war is not over," but he did offer one scenario for when the war would end. Per Ukrainska Pravda, Letterman gave Zelensky a hypothetical: "Let's imagine that Putin gets a cold and dies, or accidentally falls out of the window and dies, will the war go on?" "No. There will be no war," Zelensky replied. "When this one person leaves, all the institutions stop. Something similar took place in the Soviet Union. Everything stopped." He added that should such a thing happen, Russians would be more concerned with domestic issues and would lean into democracy in the face of isolation from the rest of the world.

Barring that situation, Zelensky said he didn't see the war ending until "we reclaim our land and our borders," per the IndyStar, which dives more into 75-year-old Letterman's trip to Ukraine, including a 17-hour ride in a cramped sleeper train car to Kyiv. Letterman also talked with the Washington Post about his experience, calling Zelensky "genuine" and comparable to "Winston Churchill fending off Hitler." He also addresses Zelensky's waving-off of the air raid siren during their interview. "He says, 'Eh, nothing,'" Letterman recalls. "And I just thought, 'Oh, my God, this is Steve McQueen." If you're a Netflix subscriber, stream the episode here. More on Letterman's unusual journey to meet Zelensky, and his other takes on what he saw in Ukraine, here. (More Volodymyr Zelensky stories.)

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