President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Ukrainian armed forces are ready to fight as long as it takes to roll back Russia’s invasion.
“I know they want to fight to the last soldier, to the last military man,” Zelenskyy said of Ukraine’s soldiers, in an interview with VICE News’ Ben Solomon and Adam Desiderio in Kyiv on Wednesday. “I really want to believe that won't happen.”
Ukrainian forces have surprised global observers by stymying the advance of Russia’s larger and better-equipped invading army over the past two weeks of bitter fighting. Zelenskyy acknowledged that the two sides are not evenly matched, but he argued Ukraine also has advantages.
“The forces are not equal,” Zelenskyy said. “But at the same time, I can say that our men have unequal capabilities. Because on our side are fighting heroes who defend their own land. And on the other side there are young men who are afraid of everything, and they have come to take what does not belong to them.”
In the same interview, Zelenskyy predicted Russian Vladimir Putin will eventually reconsider his invasion plans after encountering the strength of Ukraine’s defense and agree to negotiate.
Western military analysts have said that Russia may have sufficient troop levels and firepower to eventually grind down Ukraine’s conventional army, and even demolish Ukraine’s cities and population centers if Putin decides to wage unrestrained siege warfare. But even so, Putin would then likely face the challenge of putting down guerrilla resistance and a potentially long and difficult occupation of a hostile country, military experts say.
Zelenskyy, in a guarded way, alluded to the possibility that Russia’s larger war machine could eventually swamp Ukraine’s armed forces with superior numbers and firepower.
“I would like to save our heroic soldiers,” Zelenskyy said. “But we will hold the defense of our land as long as we can.”
Tune in to VICE News Tonight on VICE TV at 11 p.m. for the interview and more from our teams in Ukraine.