Speaking to foreign reporters Friday, Zelensky said he explained in phone calls to world leaders like US President Joe Biden
and France’s Emmanuel Macron that, though the threat from the Kremlin is “imminent and constant,” Ukrainians have “learned to live” with it since Moscow invaded in 2014.
“They are saying tomorrow is the war. This means panic,” Zelensky said.
Russia has amassed tens of thousands of troops
on its border with Ukraine, prompting fears that Russian President Vladimir Putin is planning an incursion. Russia has repeatedly denied it plans to invade its western neighbor.
The exact severity of the threat posed by Russia remains unclear and has reportedly been a point of contention between Zelensky and Biden.
Their conversation Thursday purportedly did not go well, a senior Ukrainian official told CNN. On the call, which the Ukrainian official described as “long and frank,” Biden was said to have warned that a Russian invasion was now virtually certain and imminent, while Zelensky restated his position that the threat from Russia remains “dangerous but ambiguous.”
The White House disputed that account and said that anonymous sources were “leaking falsehoods.” A spokeswoman said Biden warned Zelensky that an invasion in February was what she called a “distinct possibility.”
When asked about his conversation with Biden, Zelensky thanked the US President for his support but said the Russian troop build-up was not much more significant than what he had seen in the past.
“I’m the President of Ukraine, I’m based here, and I think I know the details deeper than any other President,” Zelensky said. “We don’t have any misunderstandings with President Biden. I just deeply understand what is going on in my country just as he understands perfectly well what’s going on in the United States.”