Zelenskyy says Ukraine is defending its basic human rights

Zelenskyy says Ukraine is defending its basic human rights

“We are defending the ability for a person to live in the modern world,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy told 60 Minutes correspondent Scott Pelley.

In an interview taped Wednesday in Kyiv, Zelenskyy told Pelley his country remains united because it has no other choice.

“We united as a nation” Zelenskyy said to Pelley, speaking through an interpreter. “The weakest people became strong. The strong people became the strongest, most powerful, so powerful that nobody could have outdone them. In this way, our nation of strong and weak people has transformed into one solid, strong force. And one strong community.”

Volodymyr Zelenskyy won the Ukrainian presidency in 2019 with 73% of the vote. He told Pelley he was urged by multiple people leave the country at the start of the war but chose to stay.

“Before I do something, I analyze the situation. I’ve always done it calmly, without any chaos,” Zelenskyy said through an interpreter. “I might not be the strongest warrior. But not I’m willing to betray anyone.”

The Ukrainian president spoke in his national language for most of the interview. At times, he transitioned to English, including to express gratitude toward the American people.

“I just want to thank [you] for your support,” Zelenskyy told 60 Minutes. “It’s not about, not only about your country. It’s about our country. It’s about all the world. The world changed.” 

President Zelenskyy’s message to the American people


The 44-year-old president of Ukraine told Pelley that American-supplied munitions are “helping” and “assisting” the Ukrainian war effort, but emphasized that his nation still needs more support. He declined to reveal specific details as to additional support he requested from President Joe Biden. Zelenskyy said President Biden has “the list.”

Zelenskyy is a former actor and comedian who also holds a law degree. He was a political neophyte when he assumed the presidency. In the lead-up to the Russian invasion and throughout the war he has spoken brashly about the needs of his army and people. Zelenskyy told Pelley his nation needs more weapons and securities guarantees from NATO.

Two days prior to his interview with 60 Minutes, Zelenskyy visited Bucha, a northwestern suburban of Kyiv. The Ukrainian president told 60 Minutes what he saw: “Death. Just death.”

“There was death,” Zelenskyy said. “There were no people. There just weren’t any people. Imagine coming to a ghost town.”

A mass grave in Bucha, Ukraine. 

Eric Kerchner, 60 Minutes

Days after the Russian army left Bucha, the Ukrainian government said it discovered mass graves and found bodies littered on the streets of Bucha. Some of the dead were found with their hands bound and appeared to have been shot at close range.

Zelenskyy, who is Jewish, told 60 Minutes that during his trip to Bucha he met a grandfather who survived World War II. The Ukrainian president said the elderly man told him that he could never envision hating someone more than the Nazis, but the Russian soldiers in Bucha were worse.


Eric Kerchner, 60 Minutes

The International Criminal Court began a formal investigation into possible war crimes committed in Ukraine at the beginning of March.

Zelenskyy told Pelley he believes anyone who issues or fulfilled an order is guilty of war crimes, including Russian President Vladimir Putin.

You can watch Pelley’s two-part interview with Volodymyr Zelenskyy below. 

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy: The 60 Minutes Interview


The videos above were produced by Keith Zubrow and Sarah Shafer Prediger. They were edited by Sarah Shafer Prediger. 

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