ua en ru

Taurus missiles, army size, and threat of World War III: Zelenskyy's interview highlights

Taurus missiles, army size, and threat of World War III: Zelenskyy's interview highlights President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy (Photo: Vitalii Nosach, RBC-Ukraine)
Author: Daria Shekina

President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy gave an interview to the German TV channel ARD. During the interview, he stated the inadmissibility of "forceful" methods by the Russian Federation, revealed the size of the Ukrainian army, and spoke about the threat of the Third World War.

RBC-Ukraine highlights the main statements of the President of Ukraine.

Regarding the threat to Europe in case of the cessation of aid to Ukraine from the U.S.

"If this happens, and the U.S. delays support for Ukraine, it will have an impact on a united Europe. And there will be subsequent problems here. First - the deficit of weapons and finances in Ukraine. Second - the alliance between the USA and Europe will be lost. Third - Europe will realize on its own that this is a signal, that if Ukraine cannot withstand and Putin moves forward, it's a signal from the USA that Europe will be left alone among NATO countries opposing Russia," says Zelenskyy.

According to the president, Russian dictator Vladimir Putin will take advantage of such a signal. Additionally, a sanctions policy towards Russia may begin to "crumble."

"In general, a redistribution of the world. That's what it's called," he adds.

On ending the war and preventing a Third World War

Responding to whether the war in Ukraine will end in 2024, the head of state doesn't give a direct answer but notes that "one must believe in the people, in partners, and in peace." After all, any war eventually comes to an end.

He also expresses confidence that Russian aggression can be stopped financially and prevent a Third World War.

"I believe that we are in a very challenging moment. Russia can be stopped both geopolitically and financially. We must prevent the destruction of Ukraine, the annihilation of our nation. Prevent global migration. Prevent a third world war," adds the president.

About the size of the Ukrainian army

The president reveals the number of the Ukrainian army, calling it a million. According to him, it's about 880 thousand.

"...We have 880 thousand. We have a million-strong army. And at the same time, we have 30 million people now, 30 million people are working now, and maybe even a little more. I cannot say the exact number," Zelenskyy specifies.

At the same time, the head of state clarifies that it is not known exactly how many people have left since the beginning of the full-scale war, mentioning a figure in the range of 6.5 to 7.5 million.

About demobilization

The president notes that demobilization is important during the mobilization of military personnel.

"Many have fought for many days. There are people who have spent 700 days on the battlefield. I am grateful to them for defending our state, like every Ukrainian. Gratitude is not enough from society, I believe. There must be fair rotation. Broad leaves should be granted. Money alone cannot cover everything, although salaries are high, nevertheless, justice is needed in this direction," says the president.

The head of state also emphasizes that he expects a law on fair mobilization from the military, making it a comprehensive and fair draft law.

Zelenskyy on forceful methods of the Territorial Recruitment Centres (TRCs)

According to the president, cases where men of draft age are forcibly taken on the streets are absolutely wrong.

"It is very wrong when representatives of the TRCs walked the streets and looked for guys who did not come to the military commissariats," Zelenskyy states.

According to him, the new draft law on mobilization should prevent such situations.

"They (TRC workers) should not do this. Therefore, I asked to prepare this draft law so that this does not happen. There are possibilities of a digital format; we can solve this issue modernly," emphasizes Zelenskyy.

About men of draft age who are abroad

The President also mentions that he would like men of draft age to return to Ukraine.

"We would like those who left illegally and are of draft age to be in Ukraine. The issue is not that they all have to be on the front lines because we have a large army. The question is about justice. People should pay taxes because we later allocate these funds to our military," says Zelenskyy.

About European social assistance for refugees

During the interview, the journalist notes that about 200,000 men of draft age have left Ukraine for Germany alone. She asks the president whether Berlin should reduce social assistance to refugees to save money and support Kyiv with the saved funds.

Zelenskyy notes that there are cases when refugees receive assistance not only from the country they are currently in but also directly from Ukraine.

"Well, it happens. I'm not talking about our Ukrainians in Germany right now. I'm generalizing it for you. That's why I've always said that it would be much better for us if Germany supported Ukrainians by giving money to the Ukrainian budget, and then Ukraine would redistribute these funds depending on where this person is located," the head of the country says.

About a war of attrition

According to the president, the war of attrition began in 2014, with the occupation of Crimea and Donbas.

"Wasn't it an attrition of the Ukrainian economy? Attrition. After the occupation of Donbas, didn't investments in Ukraine begin to decline, and money started to flow out of our economy and financial sector? They did. As they were being withdrawn, our income was decreasing, but we couldn't afford to cut pensions and social benefits. This speaks to the fact that the economy was getting exhausted," says Zelenskyy.

The president also adds that if we talk about human losses, in the first year of the full-scale war, Russia treated its people as expendable. And now Zelenskyy is not sure whether it is even a question of Russia's exhaustion.

"They are not concerned whether a million, two, or three million people will die. Now we have Avdiivka: people just lie on top of each other on the battlefield. It's piles of corpses. They don't even clean them up," the president adds.

About Trump

The head of state believes that he will be able to establish contact with Donald Trump if he wins the presidential elections in the United States.

"If his formula helps bring peace within a day, I will be very happy because I know how many people we lose in a day. We met once when he was still president. I think we will establish a dialogue; it only requires a desire," says the president.

At the same time, Zelenskyy adds that in the event of Trump's return to the White House, the support for Ukraine from the USA will not change, as our country has bipartisan support.

"Hardly does U.S. policy depend solely on one person. Today, the administration of Joe Biden supports us, and I am satisfied with our relations. What will happen if there is another president, it is difficult to say. Life presents many different surprises," Zelenskyy says.

About Scholz and Taurus missiles

In response to the journalist's question about whether he is disappointed that German Chancellor Olaf Scholz does not provide Ukraine with much-needed long-range Taurus missiles, he replies that this issue is not about Scholz personally.

"There is a lot I cannot tell you at the moment. It's not just about Olaf; it concerns the leaders of Europe and the United States. I am just disappointed that people in the world today are more pragmatic overall and do not immediately engage in certain challenges," Zelenskyy notes.