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Biden, Zelenskyy Rally U.N. Against Russia Aggression and Genocide; Zelenskyy: "Nobody Knows" If Counteroffensive Against Russia Will Break Through This Year. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired September 19, 2023 - 18:00   ET




PAMELA BROWN, CNN HOST: Happening now, powerful new condemnations of Russia's aggression and brutality in Ukraine. Presidents Joe Biden and Volodymyr Zelenskyy addressing the United Nations General Assembly, urging world leaders to stand up against Vladimir Putin's war amid concerns that support for Ukraine is softening.

This hour, Wolf Blitzer's one-on-one interview with President Zelenskyy at the U.N., they spoke at length just moments ago about the debate over Ukraine funding of the U.S., setbacks on the battlefield, the endgame of the war and much more.

Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Pamela Brown. Wolf will join us shortly. And you're in The Situation Room.

Russia's war against Ukraine is weighing heavily tonight on the United Nations and the annual meeting of the General Assembly. President Biden and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy making separate forceful appeals to global leaders warning of dire consequences for all nations if Vladimir Putin's aggression is allowed to stand.

Wolf will join us with his one-on-one interview with President Zelenskyy in just a moment. So, hang on for that.

But, first, let's bring in CNN's Senior White House Correspondent Kayla Tausche at the U.N. and CNN's Senior International Correspondent Frederik Pleitgen in Ukraine.

Kayla, first to you, President Zelenskyy pleaded for the world to act to defeat Putin and Russia.

KAYLA TAUSCHE, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Pam, it was an impassioned speech from President Zelenskyy in person, in English, for the first time since the invasion began. And he had several stark warnings for the leaders that were gathered before him, that Russia's campaign of mass destruction was gaining momentum, that the country was seeking to exploit divisions among the blocs members, and that evil, in Zelenskyy's words, cannot be trusted.

BROWN: All right. Well, Kayla, thank you so much for that. I want to bring in Wolf Blitzer. He just got back from his exclusive interview with President Zelenskyy. Wolf?

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: It was a very lengthy interview and we're going to air the entire thing this hour. Pamela, thank you very, very much. It's an exciting, very, very serious moment right now in the history of the United Nations, indeed the history of the world with what's going on in Ukraine, the Russian invasion, and the president, President Zelenskyy, was very, very powerful and poignant, poignant in speaking about what's going on in his country right now, what he needs from the United States and other western allies.

Here's part one of the interview.


BLITZER: Mr. President, thank you so much for joining us. This is an important time for Ukraine, indeed, as you pointed out earlier today. It's an important time for the world that's watching what's going on in Ukraine right now.

Earlier today, you watched President Biden address the United Nations General Assembly. He called on the world to stand up to Russia's aggression. He was very poignant in his statement. But amid some declining support for Ukraine right now, how do you convince people in the United States and indeed around the world how important it is to support your fight?

VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT: Thank you so much, First of all. Thank you for strong messages from President Biden. Today, I was there in assembly and I heard his message. Thanks for him and that's for me. I don't know if I'm right. I can't tell you. But I think that his messages, they go from heart from all the Americans. Mostly, I understand that there are different minds, yes, in English, or different --

BLITZER: Different opinions?

ZELENSKYY: Yes, there are different opinions. But, anyway, we are thankful for this long period of this tragedy from those days of the full-scale war, President Biden, with all the American nation, been on our side, and I'm very thankful.

And I'm here today not only because of the invitation to the General Assembly. I'm thankful to invitation. And I said just to general secretary that I'm thankful to all the people that you gave me possibility to fight against Russian propaganda because I had online messages during the war. I couldn't come, but I had this possibility. And I'm thankful.

And the second reason I'm here to be thankful to all the people of America, to journalists, to people, to soldiers who trained, gave training missions for our soldiers. To -- yesterday, for example, from the airport, I went directly to the hospital.

[18:05:04] It's not about some public meeting. It's not about this -- you know, it's not about politics. It's about these people. I saw our guys there without legs, arms, but with their brains, with their eyes, with their hearts, and they are ready to come back. The doctor told me that they are ready to come back to Ukraine, and they are really here. And that's why I'm also thankful to doctors. So, that is the reason of my visits.

So, what can I say to American people in English? My English is poor to say all my messages and all my thanks to you. I'm sorry for just these poor words, but I think you can recognize and you can understand from my words, my attitude to you and my attitude -- the attitude of Ukrainians to American society. But don't lose the time.

You gave us such huge support in difficult period, and this period, because of the Russian aggression, it didn't stop. We are on the finishing line. I'm sure that we hear their voices on the frontline, and we hear them, and they are de-motivated, the Russians de- motivated, they are afraid of us. And all Putin wants now, all things he wants, that's really to push United States, to change the minds of society, to push E.U. partners, to change the minds of the people of E.U. countries. He understood that only by propaganda he cannot win. He cannot to lose this war.

BLITZER: Let's go through some of the specifics. And, first of all, your English is very good and you speak from the heart because this is so painful, so powerful for you as the leader of Ukraine, and it was so moving when you went to the hospital yesterday to see those wounded soldiers, I must say that.

Let's talk specifically right now on some of the major issues, the Ukrainian military counteroffensive against Russia. You say Ukraine needs to keep advancing even if it's less than a hundred yards or so. You need to keep on fighting. Is a major breakthrough on the military front possible this year?

ZELENSKYY: I think nobody knows really, but I think that we will have more success and really we see it now on the east direction. We didn't want you know publicly to communicate this some successful steps previously because we didn't want you know Russia to understand what we do and what we really prepared.

But it's really a difficult direction south because of the mining, totally mining, you know, fields. You know, that our farmers, they lost legs, arms, a lot of people were killed just on the farmer lands because Russians, they totally mined everything.

They understood -- they knew that soldiers will not go somewhere, that when we will occupy any villages, the farmers will come back to their houses, to their fields. They knew about it, but they mined it because they just wanted to kill people, that's it, to do people afraid of their terror.

But, anyway, on the south, really totally mine fields. But we go slowly, but we go forward, very important information, that initiative in our arms, in all the direction. It shows how it's changed. One year ago, really, we -- by the transnational of the world, but anyway, we defended, we stood up, yes, (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Standing on our ground.

ZELENSKYY: Yes, we've been standing on our ground. And some directions, we went back, went back because it was huge pushing from Russia.

But now, in those directions, we stopped and mostly in all the directions, we began to go forward. And that means that initiative in our arms.

I can add something in Ukrainian, if I may, with some details. In the east of our country, everyone should imagine there are 200,000 of Russian soldiers.


They have mercenaries, military, all sorts. It's a huge number. And in the east, we started pushing them back. We liberated three small towns during last two weeks. And I think that we will achieve success.

But we have to have the support of our partners and we have to keep our moral high. Everything is mined, like I said. It's a huge problem. But even there, we are advancing.

BLITZER: Those mines are a huge problem for the Ukrainian military forces, to be sure. Do you think the Ukrainian military counteroffensive would have been stronger, more successful if the U.S. and the other western allies had provided some sophisticated weapons sooner, weapons that you've been pleading for, for a long time?

ZELENSKYY: You have to understand, American friends, people who we value and who are of treasure. We cannot abandon them. We just cannot throw them under the barrels of Russia guns. Russia is shooting us from all directions.

You understand that people who are motivated, they confirmed. They know that -- they know what they're fighting for. And it's a difficult task. And the United States and Europe, they are helping us. We want to have -- how to compare on the battlefield, to have the same capabilities or possibilities, how to compare long distance artillery.

Russia has it. So, we just want it. We are not pushing our partners in the question of it's a logic question, yes, to have the same possibilities. And it's not about that. Somebody has to, you know, give all their money or all their weapon they have or to produce very quickly. No, the partners have it. That is the first.

When we understood, and we're thankful for decisions about the training mission on the jet on F-16 and et cetera, we were thankful for this possibility what president said and gave possibility and pushed this initiative. But we know that jets, F-16, will be in soon. Who knows what does it soon, and the price of the soon. I mean, that when the training mission will be over and et cetera, it can be half a year, eight months, one year, two years, but we need now something.

And that's why we speak about the air defense. We are not speaking about air defense to attack Russia, not attack anybody. We're just speaking about defending missions, because soldiers, when they go through, they know that their wives and children, they're at all (ph), just them to give possibility to go and to think about the victory and to think about the battlefield and to think about their lives, because they, if they want to win, and I'm sure that it will be such way, but if they want to win, they have to concentrate their minds on their lives to be alive in this moment and to give a possibility to the occupant, our territory.

But they think about that, like we, like everybody, if we can't sit now here and speak, if you know that -- if you know that something can be dangerous with your family, of course, we can't speak. You will run away and I -- and that's the idea about air defense shield. We need it.

And that is not a question. I didn't come to say, please give us, no, no. I came to be thankful for those help, those help you did previously. But just to understand the climate of this war, just to understand we want to finish the war quick as much as possible because each day we lose people. That's it. No other ideas, no, the idea to go to Russia, to Moscow, to somewhere, to use American -- United States weapon to attack Moscow.


We don't need it.

Of course, all the people, all the people of Ukraine, it's like after any terrorist act, I think you understand. Of course, everybody who lost families, it doesn't matter where you lost it, in New York, in the center of New York, or in Kramatorsk, it doesn't matter. You lost and that's it.

And you never will hear your children. Of course, when you lost your family, you hate Russians or another terrorist. You hate these people and that's it. And, of course, you want to kill them. You took the life of my children. I want -- I hate you. But they know that we can't use this weapon against Russian, otherwise the partners will stop supporting us.

And that's why we just want to save our country. We just want to de- occupy our land and that's it.

BLITZER: So, what I hear you saying, Mr. President, is you need better air defense systems right now from the U.S. and the other allies.

ZELENSKYY: Yes, air defense system, Patriots, thank you very much. We have some -- I will not tell you how many betters we have because Russia will know it immediately. I mean, that's publicly, but I'm very thankful.

Patriots are the best. We also have very good NASAMS, RST, Hawks. We have different systems, but Patriots are the best because -- BLITZER: The Patriot air defense systems?

ZELENSKYY: Sorry, yes, Patriot air defense systems are the best because they save, because Patriot air defense against any type of Russian missiles.

BLITZER: And the Russians are still attacking civilian areas in Kyiv and elsewhere throughout the country.

ZELENSKYY: Everywhere.

BLITZER: You need a good air defense system to protect those civilians.

ZELENSKYY: Yes. And if we will have these good air defense systems enough, maybe not enough, but some, some of them more, it's just about the people who will come back to Ukraine. It's just again about -- not only about security, it's about economy, because people will come back. They can come with children. They are now abroad, in different countries, including Poland, Germany, United States. They will come back and they will help our economy. And that also will help the United States. The United States help us financially supporting us and you will use less money, of course.

BLITZER: This will encourage refugees, Ukrainian refugees to come home.

Let's talk about a specific military issue.


BLITZER: Some U.S. military officials think you're spending too much time going after Russian targets in Crimea and not spending enough time going after various Russian weaknesses in the east specifically that you could break through. You've heard that criticism. Are you in the U.S. on the same page when it comes to military strategy?

ZELENSKYY: I think that we think the same way. We don't have any disagreements.

We have some specifics. What is this target for instance? On the temporary occupied Crimea, it's a place where they store weapons to kill our civilians. They're shooting from Crimea onto our territory. Of course, we have to see where the rockets are coming from. And we have to basically deal with it that brings more casualties than sometimes on a battlefield.

For instance, in the south of our country, they select all targets, big targets in the south. And, clearly, they kill a lot of civilians. And they attack our hospitals, our schools.

BLITZER: You're also seeking longer range ATACMS missiles to deal with this Russian invasion of Ukraine. Will you be disappointed if you leave the United States in the coming days and go back to Ukraine without a firm commitment from the U.S. that the ATACMS will be made available to Ukraine? [18:20:00]

ZELENSKYY: I'll be frank with you. It will be some disappointment. My biggest disappointment is that neighbors could go against us with a full blown war.

I don't have much disappointment in life apart from that. It's not really disappointment as such. I just understand that there are some people dying. Of course, there will be a loss for us if we won't be able to get that type of weapon, which will protect us.

But it's not a disappointment as such. It will be just a loss. But we will have more casualties on the battlefield and elsewhere. And I can say openly, we needed weaponry to liberate Kherson, a big city in the south. We did occupy Kherson. It's one of the biggest cities where we did occupy it.

And before the war -- just one point, before the war, we had, I don't know, more than 300,000 people there. When we did occupy it during the war, in Kherson, we found about 90,000 people. So, yes, a huge number of losses and deported children, people, et cetera. But what we needed when we de-occupy it, we needed artillery, long distance missiles to save Kherson, which was de-occupied.

What did Russia? They ran away because they've been afraid when they de-occupied on the other bench of river. They ran away on 80, 100 kilometers. And from that point, they began to attack people. And they attacked during one year all the civilians, schools, hospitals, universities, they attacked. And now we have there less than 80,000 people. Some have been killed, some of them draw away because they can't live there. Children can't go to school.

That is the example where the weapon like a ATACMS can help. It's not only about the target and about the battlefield. It's mostly for today about how to save civilians.


BLITZER: And stand by for more of my very special interview with Ukrainian President Zelenskyy on what he hopes to get out of his trip to Washington later this week, and what it would mean for Ukraine if Donald Trump were to return to the White House.

We're live here at the United Nations, and you're in The Situation Room.



BLITZER: We're back live here at the United Nations with more breaking news from my very special interview with the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy. We spoke about his upcoming visit later this week to Washington and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy's refusal to commit to more U.S. funding for Ukraine.


ZELENSKYY: Every person has its own opinion and has right to have opinion, to have a right to say something. But when it comes to war, it's different. And I think that we cannot compare the challenges within any country, U.S. or not. With the war, in any given country, it concerns U.S. and Ukraine. It's a very difficult comparison. It's a totally different challenge. The challenges within any country, they could be different. Maybe the climatic changes, the challenges, could be of human rights challenges. It's very important. But one but exists.

Trust me, as someone who lives through war hates enemies comes to country. Everyone forgets about everything. We don't want to think about any other problems, which the human rights are not protected. What we're going to eat tomorrow? Is this energy supply cheap? Or do we have petrol? Are other roads of a good condition? This equals zero, zero, if we have war in our country. This is not correct comparison.

I'm not addressing the speaker. I'm just saying not about America. People, they basically need peace.

BLITZER: You want to meet with Speaker McCarthy when you're in Washington.

ZELENSKYY: No, I will meet with him.

BLITZER: You will meet with him?

ZELENSKYY: Yes, of course. But it's so difficult to -- no, no, I'm not about it -- it's not about clever people or not. It's not about this. It's so difficult to understand when you are in war and when you are not in war. Even when you come to the war, to the country, which is in war, when you come to one day, you can understand more than you live, you hear, you think, you read.


No, it's, you can't compare. It's, it's different, different situation. That's why I'm thinking that we can't compare these challenges.

BLITZER: You raised the issue before elections in America. The former president, former President Trump, he told NBC News on Sunday that he would get -- if he were elected president again, he would get you and Putin together and make what he called a fair deal. He said something could have been negotiated with Crimea and other parts of the country. What's your reaction to what he's saying that he would bring you and Putin together and work out a deal, a fair deal?

ZELENSKYY: First of all, see the details in there. We fear what we expect it's -- of course, we have another year before the elections. But he's got some smart ideas. He could share it with us, of course. We need a strong position, obviously, whoever will win the election. He just puts forward this idea because -- that's why -- he can publicly share his idea now, not to waste time, not to lose people, yes, and then say that my formula is to stop the war and stop all this tragedy and stop Russian aggression. And he said, how he see it, how to push Russia from our land. Otherwise, he's not presenting the global idea of peace. So, the idea is how to take the part of our territory and to give Putin. That is not the peace formula.

BLITZER: So, you're not ready to negotiate territorial compromise with Putin?

ZELENSKYY: No, we're not ready. But the question is to Trump, or maybe it's not his idea, or somebody, would United States really be ready to give to Putin from your territories? What you are ready to give, but for the possibility, not to risk after his public words about nuclear weapon? I don't know if I said correctly in English. I don't know.

BLITZER: You said it correctly.

ZELENSKYY: Yes. So, you mean that he publicly said a lot of times, different times, that he can use, he can use nuclear weapon on some territories on Europe or maybe another target, what we will decide is that what we will decide is correct.

So, it means that the countries, including United States and E.U. countries, we are afraid because people are afraid of such messages. So, we are ready to give Putin what he wants. After we will negotiate with Putin, any country, he will give the new list of his wishes, wishes. That's it.

BLITZER: And like so many around the world, you believe Putin has engaged in war crimes against the people of Ukraine. So, you're, understandably, not ready to sit down with someone who's accused of war crimes against your people. You speak -- used the word genocide against your genocide against your people.

ZELENSKYY: That is genocide.

BLITZER: That's what you say. We are out of time, Mr. President, I'm grateful to you for spending some time with us.

I just want to wind up, as you know, both of us are Jewish. And right now, we are in the midst of the holiest days of the Jewish New Year. What do you hope will happen in the coming year for you and the people of Ukraine?

ZELENSKYY: Sometimes we think what will be tomorrow. And it's very difficult to say what will be next year. But I can only wish from my side, wish to the world, to American people, to different people, different Jewish people and different nationalities also, but because all of us, it doesn't matter what nationality we are, all of us, we need peace. And I really wish the United States and people of the world, I wish you peace.


I wish you to spend time during this year with children, with families, just with parents, and with such things and such people, which we think, always we think that it's so close, the day and year, and they will be with us all our life. It's not true that such tragedy or such work can come and you will understand the price of these people and the price of this time. So, I really wish not to lose this sweet time.

BLITZER: How are you doing -- This is our final question, Mr. President. How are you doing and how is your family doing?

ZELENSKYY: My wife is with me, she's with me, she came also with me to United States and my children are in Kyiv. They are always with us, with my wife. We lived not together, we live not together, lived is also correct, not together.

BLITZER: For security reasons.

ZELENSKYY: For security, only for security reasons. But when I have any possibility to meet and hug, yes, just to kiss and hug, it's enough, it's great. Yes.

BLITZER: Mr. President, on behalf of all of our viewers of the US and around the world, good luck to you, good luck to the people of Ukraine, and let's stay in close touch.

And as we say, you and I say, Jewish people say, Shana Tova. Shana Tova.

ZELENSKYY: Shana Tova. Thank you so much.

BLITZER: Thank you.


BLITZER: And coming up, our political and national security experts will break down my special interview with the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

You're watching The Situation Room. We're live here at the United Nations.



BLITZER: Welcome back. We're coming to you live from the United Nations in New York where I just wrapped up a wide-ranging interview with the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

Let's get an analysis right now from our national security and political experts. Jim Sciutto, what's your big takeaway from what we just heard from President Zelenskyy?

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: I heard a very honest answer from him and when you ask the question, what's happening with the counteroffensive and are you happy with the progress so far, and where will it go from here. And he said in so many words, we don't know, for sure.

He injected hope into that conversation, but he's acknowledging what everybody sees, which is that it hasn't moved as fast as his western allies want or as Ukrainians want. And when I've spoken to U.S. officials in private, their conversations, their analyses and assessments are very measured in terms of not just how far they've gone so far but how far they can go in the coming months and years in terms of achieving his objective of getting back all the territory that Russia has gained.

I also heard from him some more gentle prodding of western allies for more weapons. He made the point. He says, listen, Russia has long range artillery and rockets. We need the same. I've heard him done it in a somewhat testier way in the past. I think he was tempering that message somewhat, perhaps in response to the message he heard from Biden from the podium today. But still, they are asking for more. And he's saying in so many words, they need more.

BLITZER: He clearly liked what he heard from the podium from President Biden earlier today.

SCIUTTO: No question.

BLITZER: There's no doubt about that. Kayla, what's your big takeaway? What did you see?

TAUSCHE: Well, when you asked him specifically, what do you need, he said more and better air defenses, as Jim was mentioning. And that was a departure from the very general message that he had for the audience of world leaders at the U.N. earlier today, where he didn't make a direct plea for specific types of aid. He just said that he needed the support of the global community.

But when you pressed him on that, he said, yes, they need the F-16s. He acknowledged that the training is being conducted, as we speak. But it's going to be months before they get delivered and that they need more Patriot missile defense systems.

So, trying to distill down what that ask is before he goes to Washington later in the week, where there's going to be a question about specifics and a question about what the price tag ultimately is.

BLITZER: Yes, good point, indeed. And he got very, very emotional just speaking about the kids, the children, the women, the elderly, people in hospitals and schools who have just been massacred as a result of this, it takes a personal -- it takes a toll on him.

SCIUTTO: Very similar to the passion we heard in his address to the assembly. You'll often hear -- you'll hear cliched phrases from the U.N. podium, you'll hear policy positions. He was giving a visceral and impassioned defense of his country, talking about children being stolen, villages being leveled and the weaponization of a whole host of things, food, nuclear power plants, and you heard the same as you sat down across from him.

And I think that's an important thing, because that has power and influence on the folks he's sitting down with while he's here, because that can help move them, right? It can help move the leaders of the U.S., European nations, Asian allies to give what he believes they need.

BLITZER: Yes, totally. Fred Pleitgen is joining us right now. He's covered this war from the very beginning. When I asked him, the president, if he believes Ukraine can still achieve significant success on the battlefield, he told me, nobody knows. Those were his words. What did you make of that, Fred?

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, first of all, I also think that was a very honest answer. But I also think one of the things that he said as well plays into some of the optimism that we're seeing on the ground from the Ukrainians, Wolf. He did say that it's very important right now for Ukraine to put Russians under pressure, not just in the south but the east, because that's one of the places he was talking about.


He said the Ukrainians had been making some more advances in the east of the country in the past couple of days, and that in itself is something that did give them a lot of optimism. There's one other thing I think though, Wolf, and one of the reasons why a lot of people here in Ukraine will be watching that interview very closely is that a lot of the Ukrainians that we've been speaking to are saying, they believe a lot is being talked about Ukraine, but very little is being listened to the actual Ukrainians and to public opinion here in this country.

One of the things that we've seen fortified since we've come here, since we've been speaking to Ukrainians, is there is very little appetite here among the population to give any of their territory to Russia in return for any sort of cease-fire. The Ukrainians that we're meeting say they are willing to sacrifice, and they want their land back, and they mean all of their hand. That includes Crimea.

I think that's one of the things that Volodymyr Zelenskyy also reiterated in your interview, and certainly a message I think a lot of Ukrainians will be wanting to bring to the United States. And, of course, with that also coupled with what Jim was talking about and Kayla was talking about also, the Ukrainians obviously wanting more weapons as well, Wolf.

BLITZER: Absolutely. Good points. Stay safe over there in Zaporizhzhia and Ukraine, Fred.

Jill Dougherty is here with us as well. She's a Russian expert.

How do you expect the Kremlin, Jill, will react to President Zelenskyy's message today?

JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I mean, if you looked at the Russian ambassador, he was sitting there in his chair checking his phone. So what they're going to do is say, probably, same old, same old. And we are winning, we will win, this is a threat against us, et cetera.

I don't think it's going to change the Russians. But I think, Wolf, listening to your interview, Zelenskyy at one point was talking about Russian propaganda. And in addition to weapons, this really is propaganda war. And so, Zelenskyy is here with his own narrative, his own message.

And I think the strongest message that I heard literally all day from him was that, this isn't just our fight, it's your fight. And you -- he's talking about not only the United States, but the developing world. If you think, you know, that we have problems in Ukraine, Russia can weaponize things against you, too. I think that could be, you know, a powerful message.

He certainly drove it home in your interview in a very personal way. But I think all through the day, that's what he's saying. It can happen to us, it can happen to you.

BLITZER: It makes a very, very powerful point indeed.

I want to bring in Melanie Zanona. She's up on Capitol Hill for us right now.

Melanie, you heard President Zelenskyy discuss his visit to Washington. This coming Thursday, day after tomorrow, to meet with lawmakers. He's going to have a frostier reception, we believe, in the House of Representatives than in the U.S. Senate.

What can you tell us about what's going on out there?

MELANIE ZANONA, CNN CAPITOL HILL REPORTER: Yeah, as one Republican put it to me, they might be in the same galaxy, but they are on different planets when it comes to the issue. Based on your interview, Wolf, with Zelenskyy, it sounds like he knows he's going to have some convincing to do. You heard him making an appeal to lawmakers to think about the gravity of the war zone. It's different when you're in war.

But despite that, he is likely to receive a cool reception in the House, and some of those members into it might not even hear what he has to say. Kevin McCarthy himself said he's going to be meeting with Zelenskyy, but he has decided to not hold an all conference meeting with President Zelenskyy, and he's also not committing to putting Ukraine funding on the House floor. Take a listen.


REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Is Zelenskyy elected to Congress? Is he our president? I don't think I have to commit to anything.

I have questions for him. Where's the accountability on the money we already spent? What is the plan for victory?

What Russia has done to invade is wrong. It's an atrocity. We want to make sure that ends. I've said from the beginning no matter what the issue is, I want accountability for whatever the hard-working taxpayers spend their money on, and I want a plan for victory.

(END VIDEO CLIP) ZANONA: And, of course, McCarthy is really echoing the sentiments of the hard line members in his conference who do not support any more money flowing to Ukraine, and that is why they left it out of their House GOP plan to fund the government. But I will tell you, Wolf, it is a slightly different story across the Capitol.

Over there, the Senate will have an all-member briefing with Zelenskyy on Thursday morning. And they also have Senate leaders from both parties who are expressing support for Ukraine, including Mitch McConnell, the GOP leader over there. So, quite the contrast with Kevin McCarthy.

But there are still some fault lines in the GOP, particularly among hard line members. And so, that is why this White House request for $24 billion in Ukraine aid is currently stuck in limbo -- Wolf.


BLTIZER: All right. We'll watch what happens in that.

Kayla, you're watching this very closely as well. What do you make of what President Zelenskyy can expect when he shows up, up on Capitol Hill on Thursday?

TAUSCHE: Well, Speaker McCarthy gave him a to-do list of what to expect. He wants a full accounting of where the aid that's been provided thus far has gone. And he wants a plan for victory.

U.S. President Zelenskyy, in your interview, what his message would be to Washington, what his message would be to Americans, and, essentially, it was we're on the finish line, but the more that you provide, the more quickly we can win this war, essentially equating the provision of aid with the length that the war will continue.

But he's going to have to put some details behind that when he meets with speaker McCarthy, when he meets with the Republicans who will take an audience with him, and he'll need to provide those very specifics.

BLITZER: What do you think, Jim?

SCIUTTO: Listen, I think the question to Ukraine, to a Ukrainian president for a country that's been invaded for 600 days, where is the aid going is going to be a simple answer. The aid is going to weapons to defend the country, to air defense systems to stop drones from dropping on civilian areas, which is all part of the Russian war plan here.

In terms of the plan for victory, you heard from Zelenskyy, and we heard from the podium and he said before they need more weapons for victory. But it's a harder question because U.S. officials I speak with, western officials I speak with, they're not certain that Ukraine can manage a victory in the next year just because it's such a tall order. Russia is willing to send many more soldiers to die, frankly, to defend the territory it has.

That's a harder question for him to answer. But I imagine he will say if you want me to win, I need more.

BLITZER: Yeah, he needs a lot of military help right now. This is a really critical moment.


BLITZER: And, Fred, you're over there on the front lines in Ukraine right now. What do you make of what President Zelenskyy told me about what he sees as the much needed ATACM missiles, the long-range missiles that he's desperately asking for, and the F-16 fighter jets.

SCIUTTO: Well, certainly, the ATACMS are something the Ukrainians say they would like to have very quickly and would like to have very quickly. I think one of the things we have been seeing over the past couple weeks, past couple of months is the Ukrainians really trying to attack some of those Russian supply lines.

And, of course, they have British-made storm shadow missiles that they're already using. There were some pretty big strikes today in the town called Melitopol, which is to the south where the Ukrainians said they hit a Russian control center.

They want to be able to do more that so that they shot at less on the front lines. The Ukrainians are saying that they are still some areas on the frontlines where the ratio of what the Russians can fire, to what the Ukrainians can fire, the ratio is about ten to one. So Russians fire ten projectiles for one that the Ukrainians can fire. Certainly they believe they could attack them more in the rear echelon, those supply lines. That is certainly something that would help.

ATACMS are very important. The F-16s also they say is very important, those powerful radars to try and offset some of those modern Russian jets as well. Both very important.

I think the Ukrainians understand F-16s are going to take a little bit longer.

BLITZER: And he also said he needs those Patriot air defense missile systems desperately to protect the cities in Ukraine where so many people are being killed.

Jill, give me your final thoughts.

DOUGHERTY: Well, I think, you know, Zelenskyy has a very big job here. There's no question. Internationally, yes, but domestically here in the United States, there is growing feeling among some that things simply aren't working. It's not our fight. We should get out of it.

That is very difficult to fight. And Zelenskyy is going to have to make that case very strongly.

BLITZER: All right, guys, to all of you. Thank you very, very much.

Just ahead, as President Zelenskyy pleads for more American military aid, we'll take a closer look at what the U.S. has already delivered. Much more coming up. We'll be right back.



BLITZER: We're back with live coverage of the United Nations General Assembly here in New York where Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy delivered an impassioned plea for more help fending off the Russian invasion.

CNN's Brian Todd is tracking all of the aid the U.S. has given Ukraine so far.

Brian, break it down for us.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, shortly before you and President Zelenskyy sat down to talk, U.S. military officials gave an update on the aid to Ukraine. The Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said the U.S. and its allies have given $76 billion total in weaponry to Ukraine.

General Mark Milley, the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, while he said that the Ukrainian counteroffensive is not going as fast as the U.S. and its allies had hoped, he did give an idea what the Ukrainians are up against in that counteroffensive. Here's what he had to say.


MARK MILLEY, JOINT CHIEFS CHAIRMAN: This is a defensive series of belts that the Russians have put in with complex obstacles, mine fields, dragon's teeth, barbed wire, strong points. And so on and so forth. It's a defense in depth.

And, generally speaking, the Ukrainians have penetrated several layers of this defense. It is not 100 percent penetrated yet, but they've penetrated several of the layers. And they're going very slow, preserving their combat power, and very deliberately through this defensive bill that stretches the entire length and breadth of Russian-occupied Ukraine.


TODD: And one of the weapons that the Ukrainians are using to do that, well, the most prominent weapon systems include the M-1 Abrams tanks, 31 of those are to arrive in Ukraine basically any time now. Also, T- 72B tanks, 45 of those have arrived in Ukraine.

As far as ammunitions are concerned, 2 million 155-millimeter artillery shells have been sent so far. And some controversial munitions like cluster munitions, depleted uranium rounds that are anti-tank munitions, and, Wolf, Stinger antiaircraft systems, over 2,000 of those have been sent to Ukraine so far, among other prominent weapons systems.

BLITZER: And that military aid will certainly continue.

Brian Todd, thank you very much.

And to our viewers, thanks very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer at the United Nations. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.