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Thursday, May 23, 2024

The Message of Zelensky: Ukraine Fights to Restore Goodness and Victory Over Evil

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy was sometimes dismissed as a former comedian who fell into the role of governing a country with the apparently nave promise of cleaning up Ukraine’s pervasive corruption before Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

The brief excursion to the war’s deadliest theatre on Tuesday made him a national hero and worldwide celebrity when he returned to Washington on Wednesday. His leadership style combined personal courage with savvy messaging to mobilise his supporters at home and his friends abroad.

Up until now, he and his nation have benefited much from his imposing demeanour. However, Mr. Zelensky’s visit to Washington comes at a critical moment for Ukraine, as the rapid counteroffensives launched by his forces this autumn are beginning to slow down. To get the stronger armaments he thinks Ukraine needs, he will be begging, but he will have to tread carefully.

He hopes to demonstrate Ukraine’s strength and the world’s faith in its ability to emerge victorious from the conflict by making a risky journey overseas while hostilities continue. But if he wants to keep receiving financial and military aid, he has to emphasise the grave danger Ukraine still confronts without coming out as weak.

President Zelensky “would want to characterise this trip as major progress in the fight,” Volodymyr Ariev, a member of parliament from the opposition European Solidarity Party, said in an interview. According to the author, “it’s a very obvious statement that the partnership of the United States and Ukraine is maintained and quite robust.”

The timing of the visit was also perceived as being politically significant in Ukraine, since it coincided with the Republican Party’s assumption of power in the U.S. House of Representatives, some members of which have expressed doubts about the wisdom of maintaining funding for Ukraine.

Analysts also believe that one of Mr. Zelensky’s primary objectives is to keep American support for the war as strong as possible, without letting it become a politicised issue.

Yevhen Mahda, a political pundit in Kyiv, stated in an interview, “Zelensky should not move between the Democrats and Republicans.” A new paradigm, that Ukraine is now strategically located at the crossroads of good and evil, is something he should propose.

Mr. Zelensky, a former comic, has always had a good sense of image and narrative in politics, as seen by his decision to give an address to Congress immediately after visiting the frontline in the eastern city of Bakhmut, complete with booming artillery.

Mr. Zelensky had addressed the troops in Bakhmut, where Russia has been waging a strong attack for months, “It’s an honour for me to be here today.” “I want that your light, that is your children, will shine for you,” he told parents. “I want them to encourage you to survive, for sure, and to protect your families, our families, all of our state, and the future of our children.”

On Wednesday, he appeared at a press conference in Washington with President Biden to make a personal appeal for further economic and military assistance; when asked what he would like the world to know, he repeated this sentiment. He then spoke in English, saying, “I wish you peace” (which he had originally stated in Ukrainian). And you’ll never get it until the battle hits home. In addition, he said, “I desire you to visit your children when they will go to colleges, and to see their children.”

Experts believe Mr. Zelensky is also conscious of the need of boosting the mood of his people, especially because millions of them are now without running water, power, or heat as winter approaches.

Mr. Zelensky was able to cater his trip to the need of stocking up his military’s weaponry for the conflict since he was under little to no political pressure at home.

By a wide margin, the United States is the Ukrainian Army’s primary source of foreign armaments. However, the Biden administration has carefully calibrated its aid to Ukraine, withholding longer-range and more powerful weaponry out of concern that Ukrainian assaults on Russian territory might draw NATO into the fight.

The Russian and Ukrainian troops have dug in along a new front line of 600 miles after two successful Ukrainian counteroffensives in the northeast and south ran their course. Ukrainian authorities and experts agree that upgrading their country’s military to use more cutting-edge weaponry systems is necessary to keep the country’s recent gains from stagnating.

But Mr. Zelensky’s main goal is to portray the war in stark terms of good versus evil, which he hopes will transcend American politics and give “a sense of the rightness of his cause and the sense of what his people and his soldiers feel,” according to Yuri Makarov, editor-in-chief of the Ukrainian national broadcasting company.

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