Speed Reads

making his case

Zelensky shares with 60 Minutes Ukraine's evidence of Russian war crimes

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has no plans to leave Kyiv, telling 60 Minutes' Scott Pelley that while he doesn't "want to make myself out to be a hero," when it comes down to "choosing between running or being with my people, of course I'm ready to give my life for my country."

Pelley traveled to Kyiv to meet face-to-face with Zelensky on Wednesday, with their interview airing Sunday night. Zelensky, in English and Ukrainian, discussed everything from NATO to whether he believes Russian President Vladimir Putin should be prosecuted for war crimes.

Zelensky said he is "no longer interested" in NATO's "diplomacy that leads to the destruction of my country. A lot of countries have changed their mind about Ukraine and about our people. But I think we've paid too high price for that." Ukraine is "defending the ability of a person to live in the modern world," he continued. "We are defending the right to live. I never thought this right was so costly. These are human values. So that Russia doesn't choose what we should do and how I'm exercising my rights. That right was given to me by God and my parents."

Zelensky said that in terms of war crimes evidence, the Ukrainian Security Service has intercepted communications of Russian soldiers "talking with their parents [about] what they stole and who they abducted. There are recordings of [Russian] prisoners of war who admitted to killing people. There are pilots in prison who had maps with civilian targets to bomb. There are also investigations being done based on the remains of the dead."

If world leaders want to help, "they have to supply weapons to Ukraine as if they were defending themselves and their own people," Zelensky said. "They need to understand this: If they don't speed up, it will be very hard for us to hold on against this pressure."

Ukraine has already given up too many lives, Zelensky said, and is not ready to lose any territory to Russia or recognize Crimea as Russian territory. What is sustaining Ukraine is the fact that "we united as a nation," Zelensky told Pelley. "Even though [our people] understood that they would be outnumbered tenfold, and there would be no way out, just no way out, we fought for our existence and for survival. That's the combined heroism of everyone — of the people, of the authorities, of the armed forces. We became a single fist."