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Zelenskyy appeals to Trump, Congress to see ‘tragedy’ of Russia invasion in exclusive Bret Baier interview

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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, in an exclusive FOX News interview, appealed to President Biden and Republican front-runner Donald Trump to visit Ukraine and see for themselves at the front lines of “this tragedy.”

“I’m happy to see all the candidates and all the people who are decision-makers or can support not to be against just to understand what the war in Ukraine means,” Zelenskyy told FOX News chief political anchor and executive editor of “Special Report” Bret Baier. 

“Who opened this war, who began it, and what’s going on, what’s around,” Zelenskyy said. “What brilliant Ukraine we had. We have [a] beautiful country, but in the war it’s another picture and other lives,” adding that the candidates should “Come see people, just to see them on the streets.” 

Baier met with Zelenskyy near the front lines in Kharkiv, just a few kilometers from heavy fighting. Distant artillery shots and explosions peppered the background of the interview and throughout the morning as the team set up for the interview. 

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Zelenskyy underscored the value of hosting the interview in such a precarious location, saying, “It’s very important for me, like I said before we started … the United States [needs] to see different war in the capital and here closer to [the] front line.” 

Baier confronted Zelenskyy with Trump’s famous quote in which he claimed that he would end the war in 24 hours, which the Ukrainian president still “can’t understand how” Trump would achieve such a feat. 

“He can’t solve this problem, this tragedy with me,” Zelenskyy said. He said he would host the former President on the frontlines where he “will explain everything, and he will explain what his thoughts, maybe he has some ideas. I don’t know.” 

He continued, “he will see what’s going on, and after that, I think he will change his mind, and we all understood that there is no two sides of this war: There is only one enemy, and this is the position of Putin,” Zelenskyy insisted. 

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Zelenskyy agreed that the Russian people could create change within their country and remove Putin, but that task remains a long and difficult road, particularly as “Putin is afraid only of strong, and he’s not accepting any weakness,” which means that Ukraine must be “strong on the battlefield, prevent [Russia] from occupying anything.” 

“His positions will be weaker if with more and more casualties, the people in Russia will see those doubts that will be against this war,” Zelenskyy explained. “This wave is something that we need.”

When asked about the losses his forces have suffered, Zelenskyy remained vague, citing “tens of thousands” but spinning the losses as fewer than Russia has suffered, claiming – and yet to be verified – that Russia loses five soldiers for every one Ukrainian soldier killed. 

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The Ukrainian Ministry of Defense has estimated that Russia has lost more than 400,000 troops. Those losses have amounted to small gains since the start of the war, with Russia only succeeding in taking the city of Avdiivka near Donetsk. 

Russia has experienced a roller coaster year, starting with the embarrassing rebellion of mercenary warlord Yevgeny Prigozhin – who later died when his plane spontaneously exploded – before spending months stymying Ukraine’s much-touted counteroffensive. Putin grew so confident that he ended the U.N.-brokered grain deal.

Ukraine turned around those failures and finished out the year with significant wins over Russia’s Black Sea Fleet, which allowed Kyiv to create a new grain corridor and forced Putin to replace his naval command. 

“You remember and you remind today that those days of the war, nobody in the world really believed that we will do it,” Zelenskyy told Baier. “Today, sometimes we have – and also in Congress … we have good relations because we met a lot of time, [and] they say, “When? When we will finish the war? When we will win? Why so slowly?”

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The effort to continue the support from the U.S. Congress and other Western allies remains, and also to convince several holdouts in Congress including Sen. J.D. Vance, R-Ohio.; Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo.; and Sen. Tommy Tuberville, R-Ala.; all who have spoken against continued support for Ukraine

Vance has argued that he sees little sense in “unlimited, unaccounted-for aid to Ukraine without any goals in mind,” while Tuberville found it difficult to continue “paying Ukrainian farmers” after “we just punted the farm bill for American farmers [to] next year.” 

Asked about his message to Congress, Zelenskyy said he was thankful for everything the president and Congress have done. “My message is, if they want to be very pragmatic, the price, we are asking now to support, this price is less than it will be in the future … They will pay much more, much more. We just want to live, to survive. We don’t have alternative.”

He continued, “Congressman, just people with their families, with their children. And I think they understand that we are just trying to save our houses with children and just say that if you think that we are fighting for the common values, so let that help us and let’s support, let’s be in unity.”

Zelenskyy responded to criticisms over corruption and reports that he canceled the country’s elections, saying that he never canceled them, noting that during wartime there was a law in place that didn’t allow them to run them. He also said, given his present popularity and were there an election today he would be reelected by the people.

On American fears of corruption in Ukraine, Zelenskyy said that, “everything is clean,” noting that they followed the reforms demanded by the European Union but he also said it was hard to put in new “difficult anti-corruption reforms,” during wartime while stating E.U. leaders had signed off on Ukraine’s transparency.

Zelenskyy continues to insist that without aid from the West, Ukraine will not be able to maintain its defense but also to improve the strength of the country’s economy and stability, which could in turn allow the country to ramp up production of its own weapons again. Particularly, Kyiv needs “strong weapons, long-distance weapons, long-distance missiles and artillery.” 

“It’s not about the types, with the production,” Zelenskyy clarified. “Increasing it each day, yes, and air defense just to defend people to give possibility, economy to increase it means give possibility of security situation.”

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“If people, Ukrainians, will come back the economy will increase,” he continued. “A lot of jobs, a lot of taxes, so, I mean, this is to be more strong and of course, to push them as much as possible, to push them. And in this position, in the strong position, we found one very important diplomatic route. It’s a document. When it will be ready, it doesn’t matter where it will stay.”

“At this time, what I wanted to say, it doesn’t matter,” he insisted. “It will be strong. In all the cases I set and if we will have the document with the most big countries, important countries, decisionmakers in the world on our side, of course, we can find a political negotiation.”

The question of a diplomatic resolution has hit a new stumbling block after a recent interview in which Putin claimed Zelenskyy had signed a decree forbidding negotiations with Russia, insisting that Moscow has “never refused” to negotiate.

After saying he did not need to hear more than two hours of “bull—-” about Ukraine, Zelenskyy blasted Putin’s claims and dismissed him as an untrustworthy person: He recalled that French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz both received assurances from Putin that Russia would not occupy Ukraine. 

He also belittled Putin’s insistence that Russia had no interest in going to Poland, Latvia or “anywhere else,” adding that people around Putin have said he’s “not willing to stop until they reach their goals.”  

At one stage of the interview, Baier asked Zelenskyy about attempts made against the Ukrainian president’s life. Zelennskyy said that after the fifth attempt it was “not interesting for me now.”

Asked when he thought the war would end after nearly two years of intensive fighting, Zelenskyy said that “The world is not really ready for Putin to be able to lose his power. The world is afraid of changes in Russian Federation. The United States and the European countries and the global South can choose. 

Zelenskyy had this warning, “Putin has broken all the red lines. He’s an inadequate person, that he was a threat to the whole world, that he will destroy NATO. And he will try to do that. So when the world will understand that, okay, that’s it. So in this moment, the war will end.” 

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