Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky sat with NBC’s Meet The Press to discuss his country’s urgent need for continued support despite rumors the war may be at a standstill. The interview showed the once-dynamic leader plagued with the telltale signs of wartime leader exhaustion.

In addition to fielding questions about rumors of a stalemate, concerns over corruption, and internal conflict within his government, President Zelensky also attempted to push for continued support from his largest benefactor. With support for continued military and financial aid waning in the West, the Ukrainian President has had to resort to some interesting phrasing and communication tactics to appeal to Congress and the American taxpayer.

Suppose the United States feels they can’t afford to send financial aid or military assistance. In that case, Mr. Zelensky suggests loaning it to Ukraine with the promise that they’ll pay the U.S. back when the war is over. It is an interesting idea and a shaky promise, given the current state of the war.

I’ll gladly pay you Tuesday…

Taking a line from Popeye’s J. Wellington Wimpy, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on NBC’s Meet The Press:

“Give us credit, and we will give you back money after the war.”

One can hear the desperation in the embattled leader’s voice as he begs for continued support from the United States. Support for more funds and military aid had already been waning before the Hamas terrorist attack on Israel.

Now, with attention mainly focused on the Middle East, President Zelensky is finding it even harder to convince the world to support his country and maintain relevance on the global stage. Last month, a Gallup Poll found that 41% of Americans believe the United States is doing too much vis a vis Ukraine.

RELATED: Zelensky Invites Trump To Visit Ukraine, Drops F-Bomb In Fiery Interview

That number is up from 29% last June. When pressed on concerns that Congress won’t pass any more aid for Ukraine, Mr. Zelensky replied:

“They know that we are very open; they know that we are very clean.”

His response is a direct nod to concerns over massive corruption within his government, which has not helped his position with the Republican members of Congress. However, like most international conflicts, it’s not what is openly said that can make or break a nation’s agenda.

Rumor has it

An unnamed senior U.S. official told NBC that United States and European officials have been quietly discussing peace negotiations with the Ukrainian government. Allegedly, these discussions include outlining what Ukraine is willing to give up to Russia in the event negotiations can be arranged.

It didn’t take long for the Biden administration to come out claiming this was nothing more than a baseless rumor. State Department representative Vedant Patel said:

“We are not aware of any conversations with Ukraine about negotiations outside of the peace formula structure that you’ve already seen a number of engagements take place on.”

President Zelensky echoed this sentiment, stating:

“No one among our partners is pressuring us to sit down with Russia, talk to it, and give it something.”

In the Meet The Press interview, Mr. Zelensky even dropped the F-bomb:

“…we are not ready to give our freedom to this f***ing terrorist, Putin.”

Even if this unnamed U.S. official was spouting a rumor for some attention, the seeds of unease between Ukraine and the West have been sown, and Ukraine is poised to reap the repercussions of trusting a fickle international alliance.

RELATED: Ukraine’s Zelensky Struggles With Corruption as He Competes With Israel for Support

Diplomatic tight rope

It’s not just the U.S. Congress and American constituency causing headaches for Mr. Zelensky. Earlier this year, he got into a diplomatic spat with Poland over grain export issues.

His words inadvertently painted Poland as Russian sympathizers, which prompted Polish President Andrzej Duda to describe Ukraine as a:

“…drowning person who could pull you down with it.”

The two leaders have since made up regardless of the accuracy of President Duda’s metaphor. However, this isn’t the end of President Zelensky’s diplomatic woes. 

Within his administration, there is palpable tension. Ukraine’s top general, Valery Zaluzhnyi, told The Economist:

“Just like in the First World War, we have reached the level of technology that puts us into a stalemate.”

This rhetoric goes against what President Zelensky would want advertised by his country’s military, adding in his interview with NBC:

“I don’t think that this is a stalemate.”

But it’s not just Ukrainian military leaders who think the war has reached an impasse. U.S. military officials have reportedly been privately saying that the war has reached a stalemate.

As if it weren’t clear enough that there is a divide between the elected leader of Ukraine and his military brass, Zelensky recently replaced the head of Ukraine’s Special Operations Forces without consulting General Zaluzhnyi. It generally doesn’t turn out well when politicians try to buck military leaders when embroiled in a costly war.

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Hanging on by a thread

Corruption, war fatigue, the Middle East, and upcoming elections in the West are only a fraction of the obstacles in the way of President Zelensky’s goal of continued support. Ukraine is still under martial law, and because of that status and the current state of the war, Mr. Zelensky recently announced that there will not be elections held in Ukraine.

So, while the comedian-turned-poster boy for the fight for democracy struggles to gain support, he also suspends democracy itself.

In one of his recent social media addresses, Mr. Zelensky made the following plea:

“Now everyone should think about defending our country. We need to pull ourselves together, avoid unwinding and splitting up into disputes or other priorities.”

The cracks are widening in the foundation beneath Mr. Zelensky’s feet. What crack will swallow him up first?

Will it be the rift between him and his military leaders? Or will it be the inevitable waffling of support from the United States?

Either way, it’s clear that Mr. Zelensky’s credit score is falling sharply, and the chances of him getting a good loan from the U.S. are slim to none.

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