In an exclusive interview with ABC’s “World News Tonight” anchor David Muir, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said officials were unsure of the scale of a possible Russian invasion before Moscow launched his war against Ukraine.
Zelenskyy, pressed by Muir if he had ‘any regret that you didn’t let the Ukrainian people know sooner what might happen’, said the world was ‘disunited’ over whether Russia would actually launch an attack.
“European leaders were saying, ‘Putin gave us his word that he would not invade.’ Zelenskyy told Muir.
“Nobody knew that these Russian troops would kill, mutilate, rape people and just wipe our cities from the ground, to the ground,” he said. “I asked all the intelligence services, ‘Show us concrete directions, ‘Give us more weapons.’ But then they said, ‘If they start the invasion, we’ll give you more weapons.'”
Zelensky’s remarks come as the Russian invasion, launched in February, turns into a crushing exchange of artillery, mainly in southern and eastern Ukraine. Kyiv has launched a counter-offensive in both regions and officials say they have made modest gains.
Ukraine successfully repelled Russia’s initial attempt to seize Kyiv, but evidence later surfaced of alleged civilian killings, rapes and what officials said were other crimes of possible wars during the withdrawal of the Russian army from the areas around the capital, including the horror in the city. of Bucha, where authorities found more than 400 bodies, many of them buried in mass graves.
Zelenskyy said initial uncertainty over Russia’s invasion had hampered the flow of military aid even as Ukraine pushed for help from the United States and elsewhere.
“We cannot just blame the United States, that the United States should have provided everything to us; the whole world was not 100% sure that they would start this invasion,” he said.
“If you have additional information, why don’t you provide us with this information, or why don’t you give us more powerful weapons and weapons?” he added. “You don’t need these weapons yourselves, but we need them here now. Now – now they say, ‘Yes, we warned you,’ but we didn’t want words and additional warnings; we wanted additional weapons.”