Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy warned that World War III may have already started when Russian troops invaded his country and that “civilization is at stake” during an American TV interview hours after addressing Congress Wednesday.
“Nobody knows whether it may have already started,” he told NBC News’ Lester Holt. “And what is the possibility of this war if Ukraine will fall, in case Ukraine will? It’s very hard to say…We’ve seen this 80 years ago, when the Second World War had started…nobody would be able to predict when the full-scale war would start.”
Vladimir Putin ordered Russian troops to invade Ukraine on Feb. 24 – launching what analysts initially predicted would be a quick war to oust Zelenskyy’s government and replace it with Kremlin-friendly puppets.
Western leaders, including at the top of the U.S. and NATO, have publicly stated they would not get militarily involved on Ukrainian soil out of fear it could provoke Russia to escalate the conflict and start World War III.
Meanwhile, Ukraine’s defense forces refused to let the Russians walk over them, putting up fierce resistance and slowing the invaders to a halt three weeks into the invasion. Russia’s air force, larger, newer and superior by most metrics, has failed to achieve air superiority, and Ukrainian defense forces claim to have taken out multiple Russian generals and more than 12,000 troops.