Zelenskyy Makes Last-Ditch Plea For Peace As US Warns Invasion Could Happen

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Shelby Talcott Senior White House Correspondent
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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy made a last-ditch plea for peace Wednesday as the U.S. warned a full-scale invasion could occur.

Zelenskyy, speaking in a Telegram video in Russian, quickly launched into an appeal to the Russian people. He noted that he had tried to initiate a call with Russian President Vladimir Putin, but that “the result was silence.” Zelenskyy then began a speech where he warned that any “spark … could burn everything down,” according to a translation by The New York Times’ Moscow bureau chief Anton Troianovski.

“Neighbors always enrich each other culturally, however, that doesn’t make them a single whole, it doesn’t dissolve us into you,” Zelenskyy said. “We are different, but that is not a reason to be enemies.”

“Listen to the voice of reason,” Zelenskyy pleaded. “The people of Ukraine want peace. The authorities in Ukraine want peace, they want it and are doing everything they can for it … We don’t need a war.”

Zelenskyy’s speech coincides with the U.S. warning of a “full” Russian invasion before the night’s end. Secretary of State Antony Blinken alluded to this during an interview with NBC News Wednesday evening, agreeing when host Lester Holt asked whether he thinks Russia could begin what’s “akin” to a full invasion of Ukraine “before this night is over.”

“I do,” Blinken responded. “Unfortunately, Russia has positioned its forces at the final point of readiness across Ukraine’s borders — to the north, to the east, to the south. Everything seems to be in place for Russia to engage in a major aggression against Ukraine.”

Blinken later appeared to backtrack slightly in his agreement, telling Holt that while he “can’t put a date or an exact time on it … everything is in place for Russia to move forward.” (RELATED: Biden Announces ‘First Tranche’ Of Sanctions Against Russia, Says The Invasion Has Begun)

Meanwhile, Zelenskyy warned the Russians that any move from Putin “could be the start of a big war on the European continent,” according to a translation from Financial Times’ Moscow bureau chief Max Seddon. Zelenskyy also warned of Russian disinformation, telling Russian citizens that “Ukraine on your TV news and the real Ukraine are two totally different countries.”

“Ours is real,” he declared.

Though he argued for peace, Zelenskyy also warned that Ukraine would defend itself. He lamented of the “great misfortune” that is war, noting that “it comes at a great price.”

“When you attack, you will see our faces, not our backs. War is a great misfortune and it comes at a great price. People lose their money, reputation, freedom, living standards, and most importantly – they lose their loved ones [and] themselves,” Zelenskyy said according to Seddon.

“Nothing’s ever enough in a war, but there’s more than enough pain, dirt, and death. Tens of thousands of deaths. They’re telling you that Ukraine could be a threat for Russia. That never happened in the past, it’s not not (sic) and won’t in the future,” he continued.

In the end, Zelenskyy asked Russian citizens whether they “want war.”

“I’d love to answer that question,” he said. “But the answer only depends on you – citizens of Russia.”