Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called on the U.S. to continue supporting his country in its fight against Russia, warning that a potential defeat could mean the start of World War III.
In an interview with CBS’s “60 Minutes” broadcast Sunday, Zelenskyy said he was grateful for the support America has given his country so far, but he noted that U.S. funding is serving a much greater cause in keeping Russian President Vladimir Putin’s ambitions at bay.
“If Ukraine falls, what will happen in 10 years? Just think about it,” Zelenskyy told CBS’s Scott Pelley, according to a translation provided by the network. “If [the Russians] reach Poland, what’s next? A third world war?”
Asked if the war would potentially require an additional $70 billion — a figure approximating the total amount of support the U.S. has so far contributed to Ukraine — Zelenskyy replied: “I don’t have an answer.”
He said that would depend on whether the world is determined to defeat Putin.
“We can’t change Putin,” Zelenskyy said. “Russian society has [lost] the respect of the world. They elected him and reelected him and raised a second Hitler. They did this. We cannot go back in time. But we can stop it here.”
Zelenskyy added that he expects Putin to continue threatening to use nuclear weapons against his country as the U.S. heads into the 2024 presidential election cycle.
“He is waiting for the United States to become less stable. He thinks that’s going to happen during the U.S. election,” Zelenskyy said.
“He will use the risk of using nuclear weapons to fuel that [instability],” he added.
The Ukrainian leader is set to travel to Washington later this week, where he is expected to visit Capitol Hill and also meet with President Joe Biden at the White House as part of a trip to the U.S. for the United Nations General Assembly. His visit comes at a critical time as Biden has asked lawmakers to approve a $24 billion package for Kyiv — a request that hard-line Republicans, including Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, have openly struck down.
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) told Punchbowl News on Monday that he expects to also meet with Zelenskyy.
Congressional lawmakers have so far greenlighted a total of $113 billion for Ukraine, including $70 billion for security and intelligence among other things, according to The New York Times.