Ukrainian President’s heartfelt appeal to Australia for help in invading Russia

The man who has become a symbol of Ukrainian resistance and an international icon spoke of the horrors he saw, the threat of nuclear attack on Europe, the effects of war on his family and what what it’s like to have a target on your head, to an extensive face-to-face interview with 60 minutes.

“I must be very grateful to (the) Australian people that you have already helped us. And that’s true. But we need more. That’s also true,” he said, moving on to the English for a direct message to the nation.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy spoke to 60 Minutes reporter Tom Steinfort in an Australia-exclusive interview. (Office of the President of Ukraine)

The former comedian and TV star did his best to express the importance of the waves of support from the international community, including Australia, in his country’s months-long fight to repel a much larger army. important that some thought would triumph in weeks or days. .

“I think you understand my feelings towards you,” Mr Zelenskyy said. 60 minutes journalist Tom Steinfort in an Australia-exclusive interview broadcast on Sunday evening.

“That’s the main thing. You have to know that Ukraine will always remember that.

“It will be written in our historical books about your help. Thank you very much.”

Ukrainian servicemen install a machine gun on the tank during repair work after fighting against Russian forces in Donetsk region, eastern Ukraine. (AP)

His comments came at a key moment in Ukraine’s war for survival. Russia has publicly backed down from its bid on the capital of kyiv, where restaurants and cafes are reopening in a return to something approaching normal.

But the horrors continue as Vladimir Putin redoubles his efforts to seize a large swath of land to the east, bombarding towns like Mariupol, where thousands of civilians are trapped with little food, water or medication for weeks.

Ukrainian officials have expressed fears that what lies in the strategically important southern port city is worse than the shocking images of Bucha.

Volunteers load the bodies of civilians killed in Bucha onto a truck to take them to a morgue for investigation, on the outskirts of kyiv, Ukraine, Tuesday, April 12, 2022.
Volunteers load the bodies of civilians killed in Bucha onto a truck to take them to the morgue for investigation, April 12. (AP)

There, on the outskirts of kyiv, bodies were found lying in the streets and the sound of excavators digging more graves sometimes drowned out the mourning in the local cemetery.

“I felt pain, I felt anger, I felt a desire for revenge,” Mr Zelenskyy said of his visit to Bucha.

“And then after that came a lack of understanding. How could you do something like this to people, to humanity? How could you torture so many people?”

It was during this visit to Bucha, more than at any other time, that the emotional impact of the war showed on the President’s face.

“I’m not afraid to show some kind of weakness, you’re right,” he told 60 Minutes.

“You can lose your humanity and I don’t want to lose it. I want to keep my humanity and that’s why I watch all of this. I watch pictures.

“Getting used to a war is the worst possible habit.”

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky says he’s not afraid to show some weakness. (Office of the President of Ukraine)

Mr Zelenskyy warned that Russia’s willingness to capture nuclear power plants, like the one at the Chernobyl disaster site, showed “you can’t expect anything from the rulers that they won’t use nuclear weapons”.

International coverage of Ukraine’s efforts to combat Russian forces has often focused on Mr. Zelenskyy, the significance of his decision to stay in kyiv even in the face of heavy shelling, and the inspirational role of his nightly addresses on social networks.

But he is quick to point out that it is his people, and his soldiers, who fight and suffer the most. This is even true of the failed attempts on his life and the targets on the heads of his wife, Olena, and children, who are subject to special security measures.

‘Ten assassination attempts means there are only 10 people ready to have me killed,’ he said, from the makeshift bunker with blacked-out corridors in the event of further Russian shelling that has become his home. .

“It’s not bad, when people are tortured, when people’s bodies are found in wells.

“I think considering all of that. My situation isn’t that bad, but I’m scared for these people.”

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He said his daughter, Oleksandra, 17; and his son, Kyrylo, nine; “understand everything” about what is happening to their country, from what they are fighting for to the certainty that “we will be victorious”.

“I’m proud of Ukraine and Ukrainians,” he said.

“Because Ukraine without Ukrainians is another country. (It) is about our people. “I am very proud to be Ukrainian and I am very proud that the world has at least understood that we are people strong and that we are always ready.”

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