DeSantis says Ukraine is involved in a territorial dispute. Zelensky responds.

“while the U.S. has many vital national interests … becoming further entangled in a territorial dispute between Ukraine and Russia is not one of them.” Ron DeSantis
Zelensky with Atlantic Journalists in Kyiv

Several writers from The Atlantic met with President Volodymyr Zelensky several days ago in the presidential palace in Kyiv. They asked Zelensky what he would say to someone, perhaps a governor of Florida, who wonders why Americans should help Ukraine. Zelensky, answering in English, answered in pragmatic terms.

“If we will not have enough weapons, that means we will be weak. If we will be weak, they will occupy us. If they occupy us, they will be on the borders of Moldova and they will occupy Moldova. When they have occupied Moldova, they will [travel through] Belarus and they will occupy Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia. That’s three Baltic countries which are members of NATO. They will occupy them. Of course, [the Balts] are brave people, and they will fight. But they are small. And they don’t have nuclear weapons. So they will be attacked by Russians because that is the policy of Russia, to take back all the countries which have been previously part of the Soviet Union. “

But there would be other consequences too. One of the most horrifying weapons that Russia has used against Ukraine is the Iranian-manufactured Shahed drone, which has no purpose other than to kill civilians. After these drones are used to subdue Ukraine, Zelensky asked, how long would it be before they are used against Israel? If Russia can attack a smaller neighbor with impunity, regimes such as Iran’s are sure to take note. So then the question arises again: When they will try to occupy Israel, will the United States help Israel? That is the question. Very pragmatic.”

And this was his answer: Help us fight them here, help us defeat them here, and you won’t have to fight them anywhere else. Help us preserve some kind of open, normal society, using our soldiers and not your soldiers. That will help you preserve your open, normal society, and that of others too. Help Ukraine fight Russia now so that no one else has to fight Russia later, and so that harder and more painful choices don’t have to be made down the line.

“It’s about nature. It’s about life,” he said. “That’s it.”

The Atlantic. (The full Ukraine report will come out in a forthcoming issue of the Atlantic)