President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy at the Ideas Festival: For Ukraine, people’s lives are priceless. For Russia, a person is nothing, just material
President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy gave an interview to the American channel NBC during the Ideas Festival of the Aspen Institute (USA). Aspen Institute organized the interview in partnership with Aspen Institute Kyiv.
The President of Ukraine talked about the values that guide him, the importance of world support, and the changes that happened to him during the war.
The main points of the interview:
On the Russian war against Ukraine
- The fact that the West and the Russian Federation underestimated Ukraine has its positive side. If they knew that government and political consensus would be preserved and people would defend their homes with bare hands, they would prepare for this war on an even larger scale. Western intelligence agencies were wrong in their assessments because no one fully knew how the other would act in a difficult situation.
- The only one who raised the issue of Nazism in Ukraine was always Russia. Russians justify their crimes in this way. Although, they know that I have Jewish blood and Nazis tortured my family during the Second World War. In addition, Ukraine has the lowest rate of anti-Semitism compared to most countries in the world.
- What we saw in Bucha caused a terrible feeling and understanding that was a reality scarier than any movie. It didn’t have as much blood as Tarantino or as many shots as Spielberg. There is only silence, destruction, dead people, dead technology, and death. I did not believe before that people were capable of such torture.
- It was always important to me that Ukraine should not be a gray zone from the point of view of geopolitics. The Ukrainian people chose the European path and values that are the same in Europe, the USA, and Ukraine.
- For Ukraine, people’s lives are priceless. For Russia, a person is nothing, just material. We don’t know whether Vladimir Putin is sick, but we know there is a disease in Russia, which is not a matter of only one person. Unfortunately, many people in the circle of the president of the Russian Federation are sick of it: excessive ambitions and disrespect for international law and people’s lives.
- No matter what my profession is, I am a Ukrainian first of all, I love my country, and I take care of my family, my wife, my children, and my home. These values do not depend on your past profession, who you have become, and who you will be in future. The main thing is that you should be open, strong, and patriotic all your life. These are the values that should not change.
On the importance of global support
- When sanctions are not implemented at 100 percent, the result is not 100 percent and not fast. The blow will come when these processes will be supported by all states. Of course, democracy involves dialogue, but when you defend democracy, you should not look for long explanations and conversations. It is necessary to introduce tough sanctions because a terrorist state is opposing you. And you can stop it only with strength. And strength is in unity.
- Where we lose one man, Russia loses five. Where we lose one tank, they lose five. Yes, we are fighting. But we must be honest and say it is difficult for us. Because for one of our tanks, they have ten of their own, and for one of our fighters, they have ten. No matter how strong we are, there are ten times more of them. It is difficult for us, but we are holding on. It will be difficult for us alone with Russia, and therefore the support of both Europe and the USA is important. Everyone should understand that this is not a war between Ukraine and Russia. This is a war between the entire civilized world with the army of the Russian Federation.