Zelensky says war in Ukraine would end without U.S. support
Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelensky admitted that his country would be unable to continue fighting Russia without support from the United States and its taxpayers.
Zelensky told the AP that Washington "really understands that if they stop helping us, we will not win."
He also expressed concern that he could be pressured into making a peace deal that is unfavorable to Ukraine if Russia starts to gain momentum.
Zelensky admits it
The Ukrainian leader pointed to the protracted battle over the eastern city of Bakhmut, dismissed by Western observers as strategically insignificant.
Zelensky said a defeat there would demoralize Ukraine and force him to make painful concessions to end the war. Vladimir Putin will "smell that we are weak" and "sell this victory to the West, to his society, to China, to Iran," he said.
"Our society will feel tired,” he said. “Our society will push me to have compromise with them.”
With few exceptions, Biden has satisfied Zelensky's constant pleas for more U.S. weaponry. Biden has pledged to back Ukraine for "as long as it takes" despite mounting pushback on U.S. involvement at home and concerns the conflict could escalate unpredictably.
Former President Donald Trump, who is the leading Republican candidate for the 2024 presidential election, has called for an immediate end to hostilities in Ukraine before "World War III" erupts, and Republicans have stepped up pressure to track tens of billions in military aid sent there.
No peace deal in sight
Zelensky and his Western backers at the White House have generally rejected calls for peace as premature without a Russian withdrawal of forces.
At a "democracy summit" in Washington this week, Secretary of State Antony Blinken flatly dismissed China's calls for a cease-fire as a "cynical trap."
"I think we all have to be very much aware and beware of what may seem to be well-intentioned efforts, for example, to call for cease-fires, which would potentially have the effect of freezing in place the conflict," he said.
But Zelensky invited China's Xi Jinping, who has aligned closer with Vladimir Putin, to visit Ukraine.
"We are ready to see him here,” he said. “I want to speak with him. I had contact with him before full-scale war. But during all this year, more than one year, I didn’t have.”