Zelensky Dismisses Putin Nuke Threats: 'Loves His Own Life'

Ukrainian president talks to 'NYT' on Russia, NATO support, and what he plans to do after the war
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted May 22, 2024 7:27 AM CDT
Zelensky Dismisses Putin Nuke Threats: 'Loves His Own Life'
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky waits to greet US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, prior to their meeting in Kyiv, Ukraine, on May 14.   (Brendan Smialowski/Pool Photo via AP)

There's no sign that Russia's two-year-plus invasion into Ukraine will end anytime soon, partly because Ukraine is now in a "critical time," with "its army in retreat and a new package of American arms yet to arrive in sufficient quantities," reports the New York Times. In a lengthy interview with the paper, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, whose five-year presidential term has been expanded under martial law due to the war, expresses his frustration with what he feels is the West's sluggish reaction to the war effort. "Shoot down what's in the sky over Ukraine," he says of possible involvement from NATO nations. "And give us the weapons to use against Russian forces on the borders." More from the interview:

  • On acquiring more Patriot air defense systems: "Can we get seven?" Zelensky asks of the Western alliance, suggesting that could be an outcome of a NATO get-together in DC in July. "Do you think it is too much for the NATO anniversary summit in Washington? For a country that is fighting for freedom and democracy around the world today?"

  • On NATO helping train or support Ukrainian troops: "I don't see it, except in words."
  • On using weapons from the West to strike military targets in Russia: The US opposes that, but Zelensky says not being able to do so essentially makes his troops sitting ducks. Russian troops "proceed calmly, understanding that our partners do not give us permission" to put their weapons to use in retaliation.
  • On the West's hesitation: The Ukrainian leader thinks it all comes down to some nations wanting to keep diplomatic and trade ties going with Russia. "Everyone keeps the door slightly ajar," he notes.
  • On fears of a nuclear escalation: Zelensky doesn't think Putin would ever resort to that: "He may be irrational, but he loves his own life."
  • On his 'happiest moments': Spending time with his two kids, ages 11 and 19, helps him "recharge," as do regular workouts and reading before he falls asleep at night. And when the war is finally over? "I would just like to have a bit of time with my family and with my dogs."
Read the interview in full here. (More Volodymyr Zelensky stories.)

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