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Ex-Ukraine leader and former U.S. commander urge U.S. to hold firm as Kyiv fights "for global security"

U.S. politics and Ukraine
U.S. politics and the impact on Ukraine 02:51

Kyiv, Ukraine — From rocket systems to anti-tank missiles, American weapons have been game changing in Ukraine's war against Russia's invading forces. In recent weeks, the armaments have helped Ukrainian forces recapture significant swaths of territory in the south and east of the country.

Petro Poroshenko, who served as the President of Ukraine between 2014 and 2019, said he appreciates the U.S. government's support for his country —  but first and foremost, he told CBS News that he wanted to thank "the United States people."

HIMARS: How it's changing Ukraine's fight against Russia 06:07

Defeating Vladimir Putin's invasion of his country, Poroshenko said, is about defending democracy across the free world.

"This is fighting not only for Ukraine, this is fighting for United States, this is fighting for the whole Western world," the former leader told us in Kyiv.

Ukraine's former leader Petro Poroshenko addresses supporters after his arrival at an airport outside Kyiv, January 17, 2022. ALEKSEY FILIPPOV/AFP/Getty

But last month, then-minority leader of the U.S. House of Representatives Kevin McCarthy suggested Republicans could reassess military assistance to Ukraine if they won control of Congress. McCarthy said there should be "no blank check" for the U.S. partner, which years of war have made into a buffer zone on democratic Europe's eastern border with autocratic Russia.

Retired General Ben Hodges, who commanded the U.S. Army in Europe between 2014 and 2018, said the Republican lawmakers' remarks sound like, "a Kremlin-quality fairy tale — but nonetheless, that's what's coming from the Republican side."

The former commander is also critical of progressive Democrats in Congress who wrote a letter urging President Biden to use diplomacy to somehow end the war, before hastily withdrawing it. Others in the U.S. have even argued that Ukraine should give up territory in return for peace.

Lieutenant General Ben Hodges, commanding general of the US Army in Europe is seen during a press conference after NATO Saber Strike military exercises on June 16, 2017 in Orzysz, Poland. WOJTEK RADWANSKI/AFP/Getty

We asked Hodges if he believed that could work — if Russia could be trusted.

"Absolutely not," replied the long-time U.S. Army officer, adding that he would ask those people "which part of their country or their home state are they willing to give up if Russia said, 'Hey, look, we just want a little bit of Florida, or let us have New England, and then we'll promise not to use nuclear weapons.'"

Former President Donald Trump, who recently announced his bid to reclaim the White House in 2024, was impeached for abuse of power in 2019 after blocking nearly $400 million in military assistance to Ukraine and pressuring President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to investigate discredited corruption allegations against his rival, Joe Biden.

Now some Ukrainians fear they could once again be held hostage to U.S. politics.

Poroshenko said he had a message for all of his friends in the United States, "both Democrat and Republican: It should be a competition between you" to see who does "more for Ukrainian resilience - for global security."

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