Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky predicted in an interview published Monday that, should Russian leader Vladimir Putin suddenly die, the Russian invasion of his country would abruptly end, as the Russian state would collapse and not have resources to continue.
Zelensky made the prediction in response to a question from David Letterman, who traveled to Kyiv to interview Zelensky for his Netflix series My Next Guest Needs No Introduction. Letterman explicitly asked how the war effort would continue without Putin, who Zelensky has held personally responsible for the war.
Russia invaded Ukraine under Putin in 2014, seizing its Crimean Peninsula and fighting a proxy war using separatists sympathetic to Moscow in the eastern Donbass regions of Luhansk and Donetsk. That war precedes Zelensky’s rise to the presidency by five years; Zelensky took office as the “pro-Russian” candidate in the 2019 presidential election after a lengthy career in comic acting.