News and Analysis

‘Don’t Be Afraid. Be Ready’: Zelensky Says The World Should Prepare For Russia To Use Nukes
KYIV, UKRAINE - MARCH 17: (---EDITORIAL USE ONLY â MANDATORY CREDIT - "UKRAINIAN PRESIDENCY / HANDOUT" - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS----) Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy makes a speech on evaluation the 22nd day of the Russia-Ukraine war during virtually addressing in Kyiv, Ukraine on March 17, 2022. (Photo by Ukrainian Presidency / Handout/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
Ukrainian Presidency/Handout/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said that the world should be prepared for Russia to use nuclear weapons in its continuing bid to take over parts of neighboring Ukraine.

Zelensky told CNN anchor Jake Tapper, during an interview that aired Easter Sunday on “State of the Union,” that he believed Russian President Vladimir Putin was fully capable of resorting to nuclear war — and more importantly, that he was willing to do so.

Tapper began with the news that a Russian warship, the Moskva, had sunk in the Black Sea — immediately prompting conflicting explanations from Ukraine and Russia. Ukrainian officials said that they hit the Moskva with missiles, but Russia insisted that a fire had caused the ship to sink.

“On Friday, the United States supported Ukraine’s account, with a senior defense official saying that it believes that two Ukrainian Neptune missiles hit the Russian warship in the Black Sea,” CNN reported.

Tapper turned the question to Zelensky then, saying, “The Moskva, the one that Ukrainian soldiers told to ‘f-off’ sank. The Russians say — and the Russians are liars — but the Russians say it sank on its own. Can you offer some clarity and evidence as to what happened to that ship?”

“We know that it is gone. For us it is a serious weapon against our country. That is why the fact that it sank is not a tragedy for us,” Zelensky replied through a translator. “I want you and everyone else to know that. The less weapons the Russian Federation who attacked our country has, the better it is for us, the less powerful they are. This is all, and it is the most important thing. And what happened to it? Time will tell.”

Tapper and Zelensky went on to discuss the ongoing battle for the Donbas region, and the conversation turned to just how far Zelensky believed the Russians were willing to go in order to achieve their goals.

“The director of the CIA warned that he’s worried Putin might use a tactical nuclear weapon in this fight. Are you worried?” Tapper asked.

“Not only me. I think all of the world, all the countries have to be worried because you know it can be not real information, but it can be the truth,” Zelensky replied in English, noting that often the real difficulty was in determining what information was real and accurate.

“For them, life of the people is nothing,” Zelensky continued. “That’s why we truly think — not be afraid, don’t be afraid. Be ready, but that is not a question to Ukraine, and not only for Ukraine, for all the world. I think so.”

A translator took over to assist in the rest of Zelensky’s response, noting that no one had really expected a full-scale war over Ukraine — either in 2014 or currently — but that the Russians had pushed forward anyway. For that reason, he said, he had to believe the Russians were capable of anything — even the use of chemical or nuclear weapons.

“Now that there will be a full-scale invasion and killing of civilians, nobody expected them to invade the areas where there’s no military equipment and just kill and shoot dead a civilian population. Nobody expected that,” Zelensky continued through the translator. “But this is a fact, and it happened, and that is when Russia gives information and says, if something goes not according to plan, they can use chemical weapons and their nuclear potential. And that is why I believe these are dangerous claims of untrustworthy people. If we believe some of them are already untrustworthy, then they can use nuclear weapons.”

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