WASHINGTON: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has accused Donald Trump of siding with Russian leader Vladimir Putin while warning that millions could die without new US assistance to Kyiv.

The Ukrainian leader spoke to CNN in his latest US television interview as President Joe Biden struggles to break a deadlock in Congress, where members of Trump’s Republican Party in the House of Representatives oppose authorizing $61 billion in new assistance to Ukraine.

According to excerpts of the interview released Monday, Zelensky said he “can’t understand how Donald Trump can be on the side of Putin,” adding, calling it “unbelievable.”

While noting that Trump, the Republican frontrunner to challenge Biden in November’s election, met the Russian president during his term in office, Zelensky said he doesn’t believe Trump understands Putin.

Ukraine needs Western aid to win war after setbacks: Zelensky

“I think Donald Trump doesn’t know Putin,” Zelensky said. “I don’t think he understands that Putin will never stop.”

Trump has called the assistance wasteful and sought to link debate on Ukraine to Biden’s policies on migrants seeking to enter from the Mexican border.

J.D. Vance, a Trump-aligned Republican senator, told the Munich Security Conference this month that US assistance “is not going to fundamentally change the reality on the battlefield.”

Zelensky invited Vance to visit the frontline, saying, “He will understand that millions of people will be killed” without new US support.

Russia recently scored its first victory in months in Ukraine as it seized the town of Avdiivka in the eastern Donetsk region, with Ukrainian troops saying they were forced to ration ammunition due to shortages.

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