Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky appealed to his American counterpart Joe Biden to follow in the footsteps of other world leaders and visit Ukraine in order to send a “great signal” of support for his war-torn country as it continued to battle Russia.
Zelensky extended the invitation to the US president during an exclusive, televised interview with Post columnist Piers Morgan in Kyiv, where he was joined by his wife, Olena Zelenska, coming fresh off her visit to Washington DC, where she addressed Congress and asked for more weapons to help repel the Russian forces.
“I believe this would be a great signal, a big signal. Everyone sees Ukraine’s attitude towards the US. This would be the highest support,” Zelensky told Morgan in the couple’s first joint sit-down interview.
Zelensky stressed that if Biden, 79, were to visit Ukraine, it would send “the strongest signal which can be given in support of Ukraine.”
The president acknowledged that the decision was a matter of security, but he said that if Biden “has a chance, he will come.”
Since the start of the Kremlin’s invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24, dozens of statesmen, business leaders and cultural figures have made the risky journey to Kyiv, among them UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.
Zelensky also weighed on his arch-enemy Russian President Vladimir Putin, saying that he believed the strongman is “in fact, sane, and he understands what he’s doing.”
He continued: “I’d say that’s the scariest conclusion I can make — that he understands what he’s doing, he knows how many people he kills. He knows how many people were raped, and by who, and the number of children killed or deported.
“Therefore, I only understand one thing: the world allowed this situation to develop, it allowed such a person to emerge, with that ideology and attitude towards people. The world should understand that this result — this mistake, to allow this situation – is the responsibility of the whole world.”
Zelenska, whose two children have been unable to see their father in more than five months because of security concerns, and whose 9-year-old son, by her own admission, now dreams of being a soldier, struggled to put into words her contempt towards Putin.
“It’s not possible to understand how one crooked idea can throw the whole of mankind into the medieval ages,” she said. “I really don’t have words, and I really don’t want to say anything aloud because normal words don’t exist to describe this.”
Zelensky acknowledged that his nation is now consumed with hatred towards Russia and Russians, and he said it was not surprising, given the toll the war has taken on people’s lives.
“They hate and it is understandable,” he replied. “When so many families have lost, for example, their neighbors, their children. Can Russia give a child back? There are no emotions, only one emotion — hate.”
Zelensky, a former comedian-turned-politician, has been using his nightly addresses on social media and his frequent media appearances to boost support for the war effort and raise morale.
When asked if he believed Ukraine could emerge victorious, Zelensky responded unequivocally.
“Yes, I don’t only believe it, I know it will happen,” he said without a moment’s hesitation. “We will win, we already showed the whole world that he can kill us but to conquer our people is impossible. (Putin) can occupy these towns and villages, but all of them would be destroyed. Because without ruining them they will not be able to take those places.”
Just as he has done in countless of addresses before foreign parliaments, Zelensky argued that Ukraine is not just fighting for its own freedom, but rather for shared values.
“As long as we are resisting it, the integrity of the United States will continue, therefore we are giving our lives for your values and the joint security of the world,” he said. “The most important thing is to survive and preserve your life, your family, and your country. Therefore, at the moment we are doing this job but the West has to help us.”
Holding hands during the interview, Zelensky and his wife, both 44, expressed gratitude for having the opportunity to have a “TV date” and spend some time together after their separation caused by war.
“But all of the Ukrainian people are in this situation — too many are separated, and all of us are waiting for and waiting for normal life — to be reunited again and just to lead normal lives like ordinary people live,” Zelenska said.
The president agreed, saying: “This is very important for us. As you know, we are all human beings, and we have to be strong. Sometimes we want to have someone close to be next to us and that is what you miss in these moments.
“Yes, I miss my children, I miss my wife. It is impossible to get used to it. Everything else you can get used to.”
In the first days of the war with Russia in Feb. 2022, Zelenska and the couple’s two children were taken into hiding, while Zelensky remained in Kyiv and lived out of his office.
For months, the couple were unable to see one another, but both agreed that all those the trials and tribulations have only strengthened their bond.
“I agree with the theory that marriage gets stronger with challenges,” said Zelenska. “I think in our case it will be the same. We have become more interested in each other. That is why I hope this challenge can make us more united.”
Zelensky declared he was happy with his “one love,” his wife and his family.
Addressing her husband directly, Zelenska told him she was “very unhappy” when she was without him.