4 min read.Updated: 02 Mar 2022, 09:59 PM ISTRahul Jacob
His leadership in the face of Russia’s invasion has proven impressive in ways the world has rarely seen
One can cloak it in reams of geopolitical mumbo-jumbo about supposed spheres of influence and bogus historical claims of suzerainty over a neighbour that overwhelmingly voted to leave the Soviet Union in 1991, but the invasion of Ukraine by Russia is a grim, dehumanizing sight. Images of apartment buildings in Kyiv being bombed and tens of thousands of refugees fleeing towards its borders are everywhere. Meanwhile, satellite photos of Russian military vehicles in a long convoy getting ever closer to the Ukrainian capital signal a more brutal onslaught. Yet, one man has shone with a messianic sense of purpose. Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky has shown rare leadership in rallying his country and galvanizing global opinion against Russia. Some days ago, after the Italian leader Mario Draghi said he was worried about Zelensky’s safety because the Ukraine president missed a call with him, Zelensky responded in unique fashion. Dressed in a military brown T-shirt and fleece, he filmed a selfie presidential communique alongside the prime minister, and other leaders. The cadences of his speech are rousing even in translation. Standing outside government buildings in Kyiv, Zelensky used the word “here" repeatedly, as if in a poem of solidarity to reassure Ukrainians that he and the government were not going anywhere. The video clip on social media lasts less than a minute. Has any war-time leader ever said so much in so few words? The New York Times (NYT) reported that Zelensky responded to an American offer to evacuate him from Kyiv with abrupt directness: “I need ammunition, not a ride."