Zelensky: We don't think the world believes in 'never again' - CNN

"The only belief there is, is belief in ourselves, in our people, belief in our Armed Forces, and the belief that countries are going to support us not just with their words but with their actions."

 Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky addresses the Ukrainian people, as Russia's attack on Ukraine continues, in Kyiv, Ukraine March 28, 2022. (photo credit: Ukrainian Presidential Press Service/Handout via REUTERS)
Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky addresses the Ukrainian people, as Russia's attack on Ukraine continues, in Kyiv, Ukraine March 28, 2022.
(photo credit: Ukrainian Presidential Press Service/Handout via REUTERS)

When asked about international leaders saying "never again" in an interview with CNN's Jake Tapper on Monday, Ukrainian President Vloydymyr Zelensky said that the world's lack of action against Russia shows that there is a lack of conviction behind the saying.

"I don't believe the world, after what we've seen go on in Ukraine. We don't believe the words. After the escalation of Russia, we don't believe our neighbors. We don't believe all of this,"  Zelensky said in English when asked by Tapper what he thought of politicians worldwide saying "never again," given the current conflict in Ukraine. 

"Never again" is a slogan associated with the Holocaust, though the phrase has been used for other political causes. It means that one will never again allow atrocities like the Holocaust to occur.

"The only belief there is, is belief in ourselves, in our people, belief in our Armed Forces, and the belief that countries are going to support us not just with their words but with their actions," he said, switching to Ukrainian. "That's it. Never again. Really, everybody is talking about this and yet, as you can see, not everyone has got the guts."

Last month, the Ukrainian leader previously told the German parliament that the ongoing conflict with Russia has made the known phrase "meaningless."

Zelensky, who is Jewish himself, lost family in the Holocaust. Ukraine claimed in February that the Holocaust memorial site Babyn Yar was hit by Russian strikes in February, though this was later revealed to have been misinformation. The site marks the mass killings of Jews by Nazis in 1941. 

At the time of the alleged strike, the Ukrainian leader tweeted: "what is the point of saying 'never again' for 80 years, if the world stays silent when a bomb drops on the same site of Babyn Yar?"

 VICTIMS OF BABYN YAR are remembered on the 80th anniversary of the massacre, in Kyiv last October. (credit: Anastasia Vlasova/Reuters) VICTIMS OF BABYN YAR are remembered on the 80th anniversary of the massacre, in Kyiv last October. (credit: Anastasia Vlasova/Reuters)

In the CNN interview, Tapper, while noting that Zelensky is not an observant Jew, asked the Ukrainian president if he had a message for Ukrainian Jews and "the message of freedom," in light of the Passover holiday.

"I believe the way we fight for freedom is the most important message," Zelensky responded. "Because you can send a lot of messages with words and they come from different people. But when it comes to action, only a few act on their words, and today I believe Ukrainian people show by their actions that they are fighting and protecting freedom. If our people won't be able to protect freedom in their own country, it will be a signal to all other countries that it is allowed to just come and stab, come and sho,t come and take other people's land."

Ron Kampeas/JTA contributed to this report.