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Exclusive: Zelensky says the world should be prepared for the possibility of Putin using nuclear weapons


Zelensky told CNN’s Jake Tapper in an exclusive interview from the president’s Kyiv office on Friday that Putin might turn to nuclear or chemical weapons because he places no value on the lives of the Ukrainian people.

“Not just me – everyone, every country should be worried because it may not be real information, but it may be the truth,” Zelensky said, switching to English to underscore his point.

“Chemical weapons, they should, they could, for them the life of the people, nothing. That’s why,” Zelensky said. “We should think not to be afraid, not to be afraid but to be ready. But this is not a question for Ukraine, not only for Ukraine but for the whole world, I think.”

In the wide-ranging interview, Zelensky spoke about the sinking of a Russian ship, the losses suffered by his army and the emotional toll the war took on him and his people.

Zelensky remained in Ukraine throughout the 50-day war with Russia, as Ukrainian forces resisted Kremlin attempts to seize kyiv and forced Russia to refocus its war efforts on areas of the east and south of the country, where Ukraine anticipates a significant escalation. in the battles of the days to come. At the same time, Russia fires cruise missiles into the outskirts of kyiv and still retains the ability to target the Ukrainian capital with long-range weapons.

US officials have warned of the possibility that Putin, if cornered, could turn to the use of tactical nuclear weapons in Ukraine. CIA Director Bill Burns said Thursday that the CIA is watching the possibility “very carefully,” while stressing that the United States has yet to see any signs that Russia is preparing to take such a step.

“Given the potential desperation of President Putin and the Russian leadership, given the setbacks they have faced so far militarily, none of us can take lightly the threat posed by a potential recourse tactical nukes or low-yield nukes,” he added. said in public remarks at Georgia Tech.

One of Russia’s most important naval warships sank in the Black Sea this week, which Ukraine says was the result of a missile strike, while Russia claims it was due to a fire caused by the detonation of ammunition.

A senior US defense official said on Friday that two Ukrainian Neptune missiles hit the Moskva, and a US official said the strike and sinking of the ship was the result of a Ukrainian missile. Zelensky, however, was hesitant whether Ukraine played a role.

“We know it no longer exists. For us, it is a powerful weapon against our country, so its sinking is not a tragedy for us. I want you, the rest of the people, to realize this. The Russian Federation that attacked our country did so, the better for us. The less capable they are. It is important.”

Zelensky said Ukrainian officials believe around 2,500 to 3,000 Ukrainian soldiers died during the war, comparing that figure to what he said was Russian casualties of 19,000 to 20,000 (Russia has recognized 1,351 military casualties). Zelensky added that around 10,000 Ukrainian soldiers were injured and it is “difficult to say how many will survive”.

Civilian casualties are more difficult to quantify, he said.

“It’s very difficult to talk about civilians, because in the south of our country, where the cities are blocked — Kherson, Berdyansk, Mariupol further east, and the area in the east where Volnovakha is — we don’t we just don’t know how many people died in this area that’s blocked off,” Zelensky said.

Asked about the harrowing videos released this week showing death and devastation in his country, including a Ukrainian woman finding her son’s body in a well, Zelensky said: “It’s a big pain for me.”

“I can’t look at him as a father, only because all you want after is revenge and killing,” he said. “I have to watch as president of the state where a lot of people have died and lost their loved ones, and there are millions of people who want to live.”

“We all want to fight,” he continued. “But we must all do our best so that this war is not endless. The longer it lasts, the more we will lose. All these losses will be like this.”


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