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Zelensky warns Ukraine conflict will turn into World War 3 if Russia not contained

Volodymyr Zelensky raises fears diminishing support from allies could embolden Putin

Shweta Sharma
Monday 29 January 2024 04:54 GMT
Related video: Russian military plane ‘possibly’ struck by Ukraine missile as Kyiv doubts prisoners of war claim

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky has said he fears the Ukrainian conflict will escalate into a third world war if Russian aggression is not contained with support from Kyiv’s Western allies.

In an interview with German state broadcaster ARD on Sunday, Mr Zelensky warned that if Russia struck a Nato country it would be “the beginning of the Third World War”.

“It seems to me that the chancellor (Olaf Scholz) is aware of this risk," Mr Zelensky said.

He also urged Germany to use its economic weight to gather more support for Ukraine in the fight against Russia from EU partners, amid the prospect of potentially diminishing military aid from the US due to Republican objections in Congress.

"Passivity from the United States or the lack of support would be a bad signal," he said.

When asked whether Berlin would take a bigger role in the case if aid from the US dried up, Mr Zelensky said: “Germany can manage to consolidate the EU.

“Many countries have important economic relationships with Germany and their economy is dependent on Germany’s decisions because Germany has a strong economy," he said.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy talks to reporters after a meeting at the Annual Meeting of World Economic Forum in Davos (Copyright 2024 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

He also expressed his disappointment in Germany’s refusal to supply Ukraine with powerful Taurus cruise missiles and suggested Germany had not taken on “the role it should have played in the first occupation of Ukraine”.

He said that the West’s weak response to Russia’s invasion of Crimea in 2014 emboldened Moscow to launch the full-scale invasion in 2022 and said responsibility goes beyond the response from Germany.

“It’s not just about Olaf Scholz,” he said. “It concerns European leaders and the US.”

Russian Investigative Committee employee walks in a place with wreckage of the Russian military Il-76 plane crashed area near Yablonovo, Belgorod region of Russia (Russian Investigative Committee)

US president Joe Biden has called for continued support to Ukraine in the form of crucial weapons and financial assistance, but a package of aid is being blocked in Congress with Republicans insisting it must be tied to measures against illegal migration into the US.

Mr Zelensky said the issue does not mean Republicans as a whole are against supporting Kyiv in its fight, and that Ukraine has received backing from across the American political divide.

“There are individual Republicans who do not support Ukraine, but the vast majority of Democrats and Republicans support Ukraine,” he said.

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