Zelensky says 'nobody knows' whether World War III has already started

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky believes that the Russian invasion of his country could be the beginning of World War III.

"Nobody knows whether it may have already started," Zelensky told NBC News' Lester Holt in an interview that aired Wednesday. "And what is the possibility of this war if Ukraine will fall, in case Ukraine will? It's very hard to say. And 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."

Zelensky has been asking for a no-fly zone over Ukraine, but the United States and other Western countries do not want to directly engage with Russia, over concerns this will quickly escalate the situation. The U.S. is sending additional military support to Ukraine, including 800 anti-aircraft systems and 9,000 anti-armor systems, and Zelensky said there are "smaller countries ... there are neighboring countries of Ukraine that are former USSR Republic. They are watching very attentively to the response to such a treacherous invasion."

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Holt asked Zelensky if he thinks the United States would become more directly involved in the war if Russia crossed a "red line" with chemical weapons, and Zelensky responded that Russia has already crossed "all the red lines. If they're launching intentionally those missiles against kindergartens, against schools, universities, now, that is a cross of every single line. What else should we wait for? For letting Russians kill 200, 300, or 400 children?"

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Catherine Garcia

Catherine Garcia is night editor for TheWeek.com. Her writing and reporting has appeared in Entertainment Weekly and EW.com, The New York Times, The Book of Jezebel, and other publications. A Southern California native, Catherine is a graduate of the University of Redlands and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.