Zelensky: ‘We must prepare’ for Russia to use nuclear weapons

Associated Press/Evgeniy Maloletka
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky speaks during an interview with The Associated Press in his office in Kyiv, Ukraine, on April 9, 2022.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in an interview that aired Sunday said that there is a “possibility” that Russian President Vladimir Putin will use chemical weapons in the war in Ukraine.

Zelensky told CNN’s Jake Tapper on “State of the Union” from Ukraine, “We shouldn’t wait for the moment when Russia decides to use nuclear weapons​.​ … We must prepare for that​.”

The Ukrainian leader added that “anti-radiation medicine and air raid shelters would be needed” and noted that Russia “can use any weapon, I’m convinced of it​.​”

He added that Ukraine should “not be afraid” but “be ready.”

“For them, life of the people is nothing,” he said.

He added that “nobody expected there to be a full-scale invasion of Ukraine from the Russian Federation. No one expected there to be a war in 2014. And now that there will be a full-scale invasion and killing of civilians, nobody expected them to invade the areas where there’s no military equipment and just kill and shoot dead a civilian population.”

The U.S. and Ukrainian officials have braced for the possible use of a chemical attack in Ukraine by Russia in the last few weeks.

CIA Director William Burns said Thursday that the U.S. cannot “take lightly” the possibility that Russia could use tactical nuclear weapons as it grows more desperate in its military attack on Ukraine.  

“Given the potential desperation of [Russian] President [Vladimir] Putin and the Russian leadership, given the setbacks that they’ve faced so far militarily, none of us can take lightly the threat posed by a potential resort to tactical nuclear weapons or low-yield nuclear weapons,” Burns said Thursday following a speech at Georgia Tech.  

Zelensky referenced Burns’s comments and said “when Russian gives information and says, if something goes not according to plan, they can use chemical weapons and their nuclear potential. And that is why I believe these are dangerous claims of untrustworthy people. And if we believe some of them are already untrustworthy, then they can use nuclear weapons.”

Tags Jake Tapper Russia-Ukraine war Vladimir Putin Vladimir Putin Volodymyr Zelensky Volodymyr Zelensky William Burns

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