President Volodymyr Zelenskyy of Ukraine says the world must stop being fearful of what Russia might do and step up to help his country defeat its invader.
“This is not a movie. This is real life,” he said through an interpreter in an interview with Scott Pelley that aired Sunday on CBS’ “60 Minutes.” “Stop fearing the Russian Federation. We’ve shown we are not afraid.”
Zelenskyy explained that he thought the most basic of human rights was at stake in standing up to President Vladimir Putin’s invading forces.
“We are defending the ability of a person to live in the modern world,” he said. “We are defending the right to live. I never thought this right was so costly. These are human values. So that Russia doesn’t choose what we should do and how I’m exercising my rights. That right was given to me by God and my parents.”
Zelenskyy spoke to Pelley face to face in an interview in what Pelley characterized as “the blacked-out hallways of his command center in Ukraine’s capital,” Kyiv. The interview was interspersed with footage of Pelley and his CBS crew talking to civilians in Bucha, Ukraine, about atrocities committed by Russian forces.
After explaining his decision to stand and fight the Russian invasion — “When everyone is telling you you need to go, you need to think” — Zelenskyy said over and over that the world also needed to make a stand.
“I remember, all of us remember,” he said, “books about the Second World War, and about the devil in uniform — Adolf Hitler. Are those countries who did not participate in the war responsible? The countries who let German forces march throughout Europe? Does the world carry responsibility for the genocide? Yes. Yes, it does.”
Zelenskyy said he expected renewed Russian attacks and said additional weapons and supplies from the West were essential.
“To be honest, whether we will be able to survive depends on this,” he said. “I have 100 percent confidence in our people and in our armed forces. But unfortunately, I don’t have the confidence that we will be receiving everything we need.”
Zelenskyy made it clear that much depended on the American response.
“President [Joe] Biden can enter history as the person who stood shoulder to shoulder with the Ukrainian people who won and chose the right to have their own country,” he said.
Pelley asked whether he was disappointed in Biden.
“No, I’m not disappointed,” Zelenskyy said. “I don’t know how another president in his place would help us, I don’t know. It’s difficult. We have a good relationship. I think so, at least. Ukraine depends on the support of the United States. And I, as the leader of a country at war, I can only be grateful.”