Sad or tired, broken or convincing, disappointed or uplifted. Every day, during this year, Ukrainians and the world have seen Zelensky as the leader of his time. A leader with the most important task in modern history – to survive, stand and defeat absolute evil. But what was this path and was it easy?
On January 25, the Ukrainian president celebrates what is probably his most important anniversary – his 45th birthday.Channel 24 analyzed how much Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine has changed Volodymyr Zelensky himself and defined his current role in the world.< /p>
“I'll keep in touch with you all the time”
After Putin's video about the beginning of the war was published in the Kremlin, Volodymyr Zelensky addressed the Ukrainians in the early morning. And we all still remember this appeal, which we will never forget. Interestingly, the head of state received a notification of Russia's decision to launch a full-scale invasion from Interior Minister Denis Monastyrsky, who tragically died in Brovary.
Zelensky told the Ukrainians that Putin had decided to start a war, and also informed about the introduction of martial law throughout the territory Ukraine. The head of state stressed that the entire security sector of Ukraine is working to protect our state.
Then the president assured that he would be constantly in touch with the Ukrainians.
I, the National Security and Defense Council, the Cabinet of Ministers will always be in touch with you,” Zelensky said and kept his word.
Zelensky’s address regarding the Russian attack: video
To this day, the head of state is in constant contact with the Ukrainians, every evening reporting on the situation in the country.
Volodymyr Zelensky made his first appeal in a classic suit, but rather quickly preferred a military one. The style of the leader of Ukraine was complemented by a light beard, which is not typical for presidents or prime ministers.
Risking their lives
Russia attacked Ukraine not only with missiles, tanks, aircraft, but also with information. So, the Russians tried to spread a fake that Zelensky had fled, and the Ukrainians should lay down their arms. But the head of state quickly denied the fakes. On February 26, the President recorded an appeal to Ukrainians in front of the President's Office.
Zelensky’s morning address on February 26: watch the video
Even then, the information struggle between the two towers, Zelensky and Putin, began to crystallize, in which the Ukrainian leader skillfully outplayed and annoyed the bunker dictator.
Pay attention!The President was offered an evacuation at the start of a full-scale invasion. In particular, this has been repeatedly stated in the US or the UK. Ukrainian special security services also offered Zelensky to leave. At the same time, the greatest risk was that Ukraine could lose institutionality if the president was not in the country. However, Vladimir Zelensky remained in Ukraine and repeatedly convinced that he did not regret his decision. The President was in the capital, although in Kyiv they felt the breath of hostilities that were on the outskirts of the heart of the country.
The war separated the President from his family for some time. For security reasons, the first lady left Ukraine with her children. At the same time, Zelensky, who remained in the OP, led the fight against Russia, united the whole world around Ukraine and led our country to a new stage in history.
How Zelensky opened the doors to the EU
In February-March 2022, events unfolded very quickly, Ukraine was looking for ways to survive. The invaders advanced with superior forces, but they were held back by our soldiers.
But unexpectedly for everyone in Kyiv, they decided to apply for EU accession, which Zelensky signed on February 28.
Zelensky signed an application for Ukraine's accession to the EU: video
Before February 24, it is unlikely that Ukraine would take such a step, and also would have little chance of getting support within the EU. But Zelensky put the EU before a choice that the EU member states actually did not have. Brussels did not have the moral right to refuse a country that is fighting for the same values, its own life and the entire civilized world.
This is how the process of Ukraine's European integration, which was really accelerated as much as possible, started. Brussels' decision at the EU summit to support Ukraine's aspirations to join the European family and start the process of European integration became an important moral charge for Ukrainians, which did not allow them to lose faith in the future. In the summer, Ukraine received the status of a candidate and is now really approaching membership step by step.
Negotiations with Russia: what changed Zelensky's position
From the first day of the full-scale invasion, Zelensky tried to stop the war through diplomacy. Kyiv even agreed to negotiate with Russia on the border with Belarus, although the Lukashenka regime became an accomplice to aggression and gave the Russians their territory for attack and shelling.
In the first weeks of the invasion, Zelensky and his Office offered various options for ending the war. Ukraine even tentatively agreed to a neutral status, which actually meant abandoning the NATO course. At the same time, Kyiv's most important demand was security guarantees.
Zelenskiy criticized NATO and said that the Alliance was not working. Therefore, the head of state came up with the idea of creating a new coalition, which did not find support. In the spring, Ukraine in Istanbul presented its version of the end of the war to the Kremlin, but Moscow did not agree.
Vladimir Zelensky/Photo from the President's social networks
It was after this that Zelensky radically changed the rhetoric of the peace talks. At this time, Ukraine won the first extremely important victory, knocking out the invaders from the North. After that, it became known about the horrors that the Russians left behind, including the massacres of people in the Kyiv region. Subsequently, the world will call it war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Since that time, Zelensky began to declare that after the atrocities of the invaders, there was nothing to talk about with the Russians. Moreover, the president stressed that he was not going to negotiate with Putin himself, expecting that the leadership in the Kremlin would change. And most importantly, Zelensky declared a clear position that Ukraine should reach the borders of 1991, that is, to resolve the issue with Crimea and Donbass once and for all. At that time, this was indeed a surprise for both the Kremlin and the West. Ukraine began to dictate its terms.
Now the head of state is either trolling or really seriously saying that he does not know if Putin is alive. Therefore, Zelensky does not understand with whom to negotiate. The most important thing is that Kyiv abandoned the idea of being non-aligned and returned to the desire to bring Ukraine into NATO.
Atrocities in Bucha: how Zelensky reacted to tragedy
In the spring, west of Kyiv, there were fierce battles between Ukrainian soldiers and the occupiers. At this time, Zelensky remained in the capital, from where he led the army and the state. In early April, the Defense Forces finally drove the Russians out of the North, and Zelensky visited the Kyiv region, including Bucha, the site of the terrible atrocities of the Russians.
This was the first time that the head of state was not afraid and went to the scene of war crimes Russians. The head of state personally met with Ukrainians who survived the Russian “spring” in the occupation.
During his visit, the president inspected the road with destroyed Russian equipment, the destroyed bridge, and also talked to journalists. Zelensky accused Russia of war crimes and genocide.
Zelensky's trip to the Kyiv region/photo by OP in Bucha, Zelensky showed an absolute gulf between him and Putin. If the Russian dictator sits in a bunker, the leader of Ukraine is not afraid to travel to hot spots. In 2022, Zelensky confirmed this repeatedly.
Saving the defenders of Mariupol
The battle for Mariupol is one of the most painful wounds of the Russian-Ukrainian war and in general in our entire history. Russia threw a huge amount of forces and almost completely destroyed the city with rockets, bombs and all possible weapons. Almost all spring in Mariupol, the Ukrainian Defense Forces fought against the invaders.
Our soldiers held out to the last within the walls of the Azovstal plant, the shelter of which could not withstand the blows of the enemy. Ukrainian intelligence conducted several risky operations, during which there were heavy losses, in order to strengthen our soldiers. Ukraine to the last wanted to save its defenders by military means.
Zelensky claimed that dozens or hundreds of times he spoke with the leaders of other states to provide Ukraine with appropriate weapons so that our soldiers would reach Mariupol by military means and unblock the people who were surrounded.
However, Ukraine never received weapons, so the state leadership ordered the soldiers to stop the defense of Mariupol and save their lives. With the assistance of Zelensky, Ukraine managed to return the commanders of the defenders of Mariupol.
Thus, in September, Denis Prokopenko “Redis”, his deputy Svyatoslav Palamar “Kalina”, commander Oleg Khomenko, commander of the 12th brigade of the National Guard Denis Shlega and acting. about. Commander of the 36th Marine Brigade of the Naval Forces of the Armed Forces of Ukraine Sergey Volynsky “Volina” turned out to be safe – in Turkey.
Yes, unfortunately, there are still quite a few Ukrainian defenders and defenders in Russian captivity. But Kyiv is actively engaged in the return of Ukrainians from captivity, although the Russians are in every possible way disrupting the agreements.
Separation from the family: what Zelensky experienced
Vladimir and Elena Zelensky are forced to put up with temporary separation. Because of the war, the president's family cannot live like a normal family. On the morning of February 24, Vladimir Zelensky did not even have time to say anything to the children, after which they did not see each other for a long time.
I didn't even get to say anything. They woke up in the morning from rocket attacks, they heard them. I was already assembled, I already knew that the war had begun. I went to work at 4 o'clock in the morning. And after that, we didn’t see each other for months,” Zelensky said.
Vladimir and Elena Zelensky/Photo from the first lady’s Facebook
Elena Zelenskaya said that they They rarely see their husbands – mostly at work in the Office of the President or during interviews. However, the spouses feel and support each other, are in constant contact.
The first lady of Ukraine admitted that everyone in their family is having a hard time being separated, but the hardest thing is for the children – Alexandra and Kirill, who grow up without a father. They talk to him on the phone every day, but communication is still not enough.
At the same time, the president and the first lady do not despair, but on the contrary, they find time for jokes and love for life. In particular, during one of the interviews, Volodymyr Zelenskyy complained that no one was preparing breakfast for him. After that, the network flew around the moment with a surprised look from Elena Zelenskaya.
Zelensky said that his wife does not cook breakfast: video
A sense of humor is also of great importance in the difficult times that have come in Ukraine. During a conversation with David Letterman for a Netflix special, Zelensky offered to listen to a joke. The President decided to tell a joke about how Odessans discussed the war.
“Two Odessans met… And one says to the other: – Well, how is the situation there, what do they say? – Well, they say, war. – What kind of war? – Russia is at war with NATO! – Seriously ?! – Yes – Yes, war, Russia is at war with NATO. – And what, how is it? – Well, how is it … 70 thousand Russian soldiers died, all the missiles were almost used up, a lot of equipment was broken, blown up. Such a situation. – What about NATO? NATO? NATO hasn't arrived yet!”
Courage is contagious: Zelensky is the most influential person of the year
Because of full-scale Russian invasion around the world actively began to monitor the situation in Ukraine. In the spring, there was a fear that the world would quickly get tired of the war and turn its back on Ukraine, as a result of which everyone would forget about it.
However, Zelensky and all Ukrainians are doing everything possible so that the world does not forget about the war in Ukraine. Ukraine is winning victory after victory in the confrontation with the so-called “second army” of the world.
And in this matter, Zelensky shows leadership and reflects the spirit of recalcitrance of Ukrainians. Unlike Putin, he does not disassociate himself from his citizens and does not divide society into “we” and “you”.
Vladimir Zelensky in Kherson/Photo from the president's social networksThe head of state communicates with the military not only in hospitals, but also at the front. Thus, the Ukrainian leader visited the Kharkiv region immediately after the de-occupation of the territory. Just 3 days after the liberation of Kherson, the president visited the city, which had been under occupation almost since the beginning of the Russian invasion.
Zelensky was not afraid to come to Kherson, although the Russian military was nearby – on the left bank of the Dnieper.Even brighter was the gesture from Zelensky when, in December 2022, he arrived in Bakhmut, a place of bloody fighting. The head of state visited Bakhmut when the Russians were shelling the city. There he spoke with the military and received from them an award for US President Joe Biden.
A few days later, the Ukrainian leader kept his promise and handed over the award to Biden during his visit to the United States.
Zelensky in Bakhmut/Photo from the President's social networks
With a trip to Bakhmut and other hotspots, Zelensky demonstrates courage that is transferred to the rest of the Ukrainians. And therein lies the big difference between Russia and Ukraine. Putin is afraid of Ukrainians, which infects his army of many thousands.
It is also important to emphasize that Zelensky is in danger everywhere.Since the beginning of the large-scale war, Russian special services have already attempted to assassinate the Ukrainian leader 12 times. This is stated in the book by Chris Whipple “The Battle of His Life: Inside the White House of Joe Biden”, which is being published. According to the author, at least two of these attempts were prevented thanks to US intelligence shared with Zelensky by CIA Director Bill Burns during his visit to Kyiv. Times, since the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February-March 2022, two different groups have been sent to assassinate Zelensky in Kyiv. The mercenaries of PMC “Wagner” tried to eat twice. However, in Kyiv, they suffered losses during their attempts and were amazed at how accurately the Ukrainians foresaw their actions.
But, obviously, Zelensky notes that he is no longer afraid of the enemy and conveys this mood to the Ukrainians, who daily bring the common victory closer by killing the occupiers.
Unprecedented security measures: Zelensky's first foreign visit
Vladimir Zelensky has not made any foreign visits since the beginning of Russia's full-scale invasion. Kyiv became the center where the leaders of the whole world came. At the end of 2022, the president nevertheless made a visit to the United States.
Zelensky's trip to Washington was important on several issues, including defense. It was important for the head of state to thank the United States for the powerful military assistance, but also to make progress on weapons that were still taboo. As a result, negotiations with Joe Biden were crowned with success. Washington promised to give Ukraine a battery of Patriot air defense systems.
In the United States, Zelensky was received very warmly. What are the standing ovations during the speech of the President in the US Congress and comparison with the legendary visit of Winston Churchill.
Vladimir Zelensky and Joe Biden/Photo from the social networks of the Ukrainian President
The issue of the security of the Ukrainian leader is also important. On the way to Washington, Zelensky was accompanied by a NATO reconnaissance aircraft and an F-15 fighter jet. At the airport in Polish Rzeszow, the President of Ukraine boarded a US Air Force plane. He was accompanied by a NATO reconnaissance aircraft and an American fighter.
The aircraft headed northwest towards the UK. Before entering North Sea airspace, a NATO reconnaissance aircraft checked the area. The reason is that Russian submarines patrol the sea in this area.
An American F-15 fighter jet, which took off from a base in England, accompanied Zelensky's flight throughout his journey. Upon arrival in Washington, Zelensky was given Secret Service protection.
Zelensky is the man of the year
Thanks to their courage and understanding of what we are fighting for, Zelensky and the Ukrainians are admired in the West. In particular, the American Time magazine called Zelensky and the “spirit of Ukraine” a symbol of 2022.
The American Time magazine named Zelensky the person of the year/Magazine cover photo
В Poland Zelensky was named the politician of the year. Zelensky was also named Person of the Year by the Financial Times – he is recognized as the embodiment of the courage and resilience of the Ukrainian people in the fight against Russian aggression.
The Financial Times compares the Ukrainian president with his daily addresses to the British Prime Minister of the Second World War, Winston Churchill , who spoke on the radio to rally his country during the blitzkrieg.
The American publication Politico also recognized Zelensky as the most influential person in Europe. The article explains that thanks to Zelensky, Europe is now rethinking many aspects of its former policies, while European leaders not only trust Zelensky – which cannot be said about his predecessors – but also admire and follow the President of Ukraine.