The war in Ukraine could develop into an all-out third world war if Russia is not kept under control, Volodymyr Zelensky has warned.
Speaking to The Sun at his heavily fortified Kiev headquarters, the Ukrainian president said Russia was trying to spark unrest around the world – including in Gaza and the Balkans.
Zelensky insistedwould fight on – but warned that his victory was only possible if allies like Britain, Europe and America stood united behind him.
The 45-year-old hailed Ukraine’s success in Crimea and the Black Sea – but added: “This is not a movie” and the success of the land offensive “depends on many things.”
He said China was also playing a key role in pressuring Russia to stop its attack and withdraw its troops from Ukraine.
In a grim reminder of what is at stake, he warned that the war in Ukraine could lead to a third world war if Russia is not brought under control.
Zelensky said: “Ukraine is at the center of the global threat of world war” and warned that Russia is “lighting fires” around the world.
He accused the Kremlin of helping Hamas in its devastating attack on Israel last month.
And the outbreak of war in Israel and Palestine is not helping Ukraine in its fight against Putin.
However, he insisted that he was “trying to help from our side.”
“The situation in Israel does not help us, but we understand that it is a challenge for the world,” Zelensky said.
Zelensky shrugged off the Russian assassination attempts and viewed them as no worse than a bout of Covid.
The lion-hearted leader said Ukrainian intelligence services had foiled at least “five or six” plots to assassinate him.
He said the first conspiracy caused panic – like the first Covid outbreak.
But after that they weren’t so bad anymore.
He said: “The first one is very interesting when it’s the first time and after that it’s just like Covid.”
“Firstly, people don’t know what to do with it and it looks very scary.
“And after that it’s just intelligence giving you details that another group has come toTo [attempt] The.”
Wearing a signature sweatshirt with Ukraine’s trident, Zelensky admitted that his country’s fightback this year had not gone as well as he had hoped.
In a major counteroffensive, troops advanced only 10 miles in five months.
He acknowledged that the lack of progress has discouraged some allies who doubt whether Ukraine can drive out Russian forces.
And he admitted: “We need more successful results.”
But he disputed his top general’s claims that the war had reached a stalemate.
He said: “There is no stalemate in morality.
“We are at our home. Russians are on our land. Therefore, there is no stalemate here.
“As for them, there is no stalemate. The Russians have more power there.
“And really, how do you move forward when you can’t control the sky?”
The U.S. Congress has also blocked $60 billion in aid plans as Republicans claim the war in Ukraine is becoming a “forever war.”
But Zelensky promised to continue fighting and emphasized that the war was “not a movie.”
And he said the lack of progress on land had been offset by successes in the Black Sea, which he said was also part of the counteroffensive.
A set of missiles and dronesagainst Russian warships forced Putin to withdraw his Black Sea fleet eastward and allowed Ukraine to open a grain export corridor encircling the sea’s western coast.
Zelensky said: “We really destroyed part of the Russian fleet.
“We did it. We postponed them. They don’t have such a comprehensive impact on the Black Sea region.”
He admitted that people were tired of war, but said there was no desire to sue for peace.
He said his people were tired of the “permanent airstrikes,” tired of being bombed, tired of suffering such airstrikesdestroyed and their living killed.
“But if you ask them: Are you ready to give our land to Russia?
“Are you ready to talk to the Russians about how to stop all this? Are you personally willing to compromise with Putin and are you tired of it?”
“They will tell you that we are not tired. We are ready to continue to persevere.”
He added: “We don’t believe that Putin or Russia, we don’t believe that they want to end the war.”
“They want to kill us. And we want justice.
“That’s why we don’t talk about peace at any price.
“We are talking about a just peace because when we talk about fatigue, it is very important where it comes from.
“Is it difficult on the battlefield? Yes. But make friends or join Russia at the diplomatic table now? NO!”
In a touching recollection of his former life as a comedian, husband and father, he revealed how jokes have helped him through some of the darkest times since Putin unleashed a full-scale invasion on February 24 last year.
When I asked him if he still found time for humor, he replied, “You can’t live without it.”
The father of two said when his children were crying, humor was sometimes his way of showing them that everything was OK.
He said: “When you see your children, sometimes you want to hold them or support them.
“Sometimes they cry a little.
“When they cry, you can’t cry. You have to be strong and you have to teach them to be strong too.
“If you want to support your children or your wife or sometimes your parents, you have to show that everything is okay, sometimes you have to find a few jokes about it. Jokes help.”
He said Ukraine urgently needs more air defense systems to shoot down Russian missiles and drones.
But rather than simply asking the West to donate the weapons, he said Kiev would seek to buy, rent or jointly produce them with Western companies in Ukraine.
He said: “We just need air defense at the front.”
Russia has fired around 4,000 missiles since the all-out war began and is urgently increasing production to replenish its stockpile.
Read more at the Scottish Sun
But Zelensky said millions of Ukrainian refugees would return if he could protect the country’s largest cities with better missile defense systems.
To watch The Sun’s full interview with Zelensky, click here.