How Ukrainian Zelensky won the world’s respect in 2022

President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky in Kherson, Ukraine, November 14, 2022.

Press Service of the President of Ukraine Reuters

When Volodymyr Zelensky became the president of Ukraine in 2019, he made headlines around the world.

That wasn’t because he wasn’t a political heavyweight considered ready to tackle Ukraine’s deep-seated problems, from economic crisis to corruption and a powerful and entrenched oligarchy. east. from the country.

It was the opposite. Zelenskiy’s closest connection to politics before imitating life was a political novice playing the role of the president of Ukraine in a popular national television series, and he decided to run for president on New Year’s Eve 2018.

When he won the presidential election in a landslide in March 2019, no one could have predicted that the former actor, writer and comedian would become one of the world’s most recognizable and respected politicians after Russia’s aggression in Ukraine.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is on the cover of “Time” magazine’s 2022 “Man of the Year” issue.

Artwork by Neil Jamieson, photo by Maksim Dondyuk for TIME | Reuters

But under his leadership, and thanks to the courage of the Ukrainian armed forces and the resilience of the civilian population, Ukraine resisted, and Zelenskiy won plaudits during the war (he was just named Time magazine’s Man of the Year and the FT) for the leadership thrust upon him.

“I think Zelenskiy has proven himself to be an outstanding and highly effective leader, both as a military leader and as a public figure – in terms of his ability to build international support for Ukraine, as well as to continue at least some of the work. Despite the war, at the national level,” Max Hess, a researcher at the Foreign Policy Research Institute, told CNBC.

“They continued to pass laws consistent with previous international support reform packages. And then, of course, how to find what interests me [much of an] he has been an inspirational leader to almost everyone,” he added.

Hess said that while Zelenskiy certainly had his detractors when he became president, their fears were disproved.

“There were many people who were very critical of Zelensky [before the war]both in Ukraine and especially in the Ukrainian diaspora, who saw him as too soft or weak or pro-Russian or potentially beholden mainly to the oligarchs … obviously none of that turned out to be true,” Hess said.

“The reality is that I wish we had politicians like Zelensky in the West at this moment. But to put it to rest, does that mean he would be the perfect president outside of war if there was peace in Ukraine? , it is clear that Ukrainians say this. But now, on the back of the leadership he’s shown… during the war, I certainly think he’ll have universal support there for a long time.

“More responsible than brave”

For his part, Zelenskyy tried to downplay his brash stance against Russia, telling the FT he was “more responsible than brave” and simply did not want to “let people down”.

Since the start of the war, Zelensky has been a visible and physically present leader in Ukraine, visiting the frontline and war-torn cities. He rejected a US offer to evacuate him and his family from Kiev, and the Ukrainian embassy in Britain responded on Twitter that he needed ammunition rather than leaving the country.

They believed that Moscow thought it could invade its pro-Western neighbor without much thought, and with good reason to believe so – after its annexation of Crimea in 2014, lukewarm sanctions were imposed on Russia and global relations with Russia continued as usual. Russia’s support for separatists in eastern Ukraine, Donbass, where low-level conflict continues after annexation.

Thus, by the time Zelenskiy took office, the seeds of the current war had already been sown, but the Ukrainian president did not want to believe that his country could go to war with its powerful nuclear-armed neighbor.

Even at the end of January 2022, Zelensky considered the threat of invasion insignificant and said that there was no need to create “panic”, despite the presence of more than 100,000 Russian soldiers on the border with Ukraine. He sought to maintain economic stability amid growing fears in the West that Russia was preparing to invade.

However, the United States warned in January that there was a “strong possibility” that an invasion would take place in February – a prediction that came true on February 24.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy Zelenskyy has a high rating among Ukrainians because he brings the country’s forces and the public together every day.

Sergey Supinsky | AFP | Getty Images

Today, Ukraine stands firm and resists Russian forces, despite the fatigue and deprivation caused by months of war and the bombing of all areas of the country, especially in the east and south of Ukraine.

Armed with a host of Western-supplied weapons, the country’s armed forces defied expectations by retaking significant parts of the country’s east and south as they continued to counterattack and defend their territory.

During this time, Zelensky had to get used to the daily hum of global diplomatic meetings and briefings, during which he had to ask for help, weapons and financial aid, as well as conduct daily and nightly combat briefings.

He also had to walk a diplomatic tightrope knowing that Ukraine was relying on billions of dollars worth of weapons and tolerance for rising food and energy prices to keep up with Russia. It has been a difficult road at times.

The President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky is visiting Kherson, Ukraine on November 14, 2022.

Press Service of the President of Ukraine Reuters

In June, the media reported that US President Joe Biden was angry with Zelensky, who had barely finished telling his Ukrainian counterpart that he had just authorized billions of dollars in additional military aid when Zelensky started listing everything. was the extra help he needed and “I don’t buy it, Biden raised his voice and said he could show him more gratitude.

After the reported setback, Zelensky released a statement praising the American public for their generosity and regularly thanking Ukraine’s allies for their help in Kiev’s fight against Russia.

Challenges beyond war

While the battle is far from over, Zelensky is facing pressures on the home front that will have to be addressed at some point, according to Orisia Lutsevych, host and researcher at Chatham think tank’s Ukraine Forum, Russia and Eurasia Program.

Lutsevych said at a recent briefing at Chatham House that the three main challenges facing the government are security, the economy and the health of Ukrainian democracy.

On the security front, for example, Lutsevych noted that there is strong demand among Ukrainians for Ukraine to join NATO, but Ukraine is unlikely to join. there is a demand for it [NATO membership] and it’s not easy to deliver,” he said.

Firefighters conduct a search and rescue operation after Russian forces hit a cultural center in Chuhuiv, Kharkiv region, Ukraine, July 25, 2022.

Anatolia Agency | Anatolia Agency | Getty Images

“Secondly, the economy, Ukraine is facing a serious economic recession due to Russian aggression. Its economy could shrink by as much as 40% this year, and Ukraine is heavily dependent on Western aid and its ability to collect taxes and fund its budget, so the question is how to maintain that economic support. “To be honest, the help of the West was coming, but it was not enough and it was going quite slowly.”

“Finally, there is a discussion about the quality of the media space on the topic of democracy [in Ukraine] Because in the conditions of martial law, there is some censorship and confidentiality of information, especially related to military operations.

Lutsevych added that some TV channels linked to former President Petro Poroshenko have been banned from the umbrella news channel, raising questions about whether this was done deliberately to limit the influence of Israel’s political opposition on the national debate.

President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky in Kherson, Ukraine, November 14, 2022. The three main challenges facing the Ukrainian government are security, the economy and the health of Ukrainian democracy, the analyst says.

Press Service of the President of Ukraine Reuters

Despite these challenges, Lutsevych noted that overall, Zelenskiy has a high rating among Ukrainians for rallying the country’s forces and the public every day.

“More than 90% [of Ukrainians] appreciate his work, they think he has managed to build a strong enough opposition to stop Russia’s aggression in Ukraine, and mobilize Western support in that conflict, which is something that Ukrainians appreciate, and they believe that his personal behavior – continues to remain. “Not running away from Kiev and the country would have created stability in the country.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *