The war that broke out between Russia and Ukraine has become a test of pride and determination for Ukrainians. Many people in the west fear for the lives of the Ukrainian people fleeing the war. It breaks my heart also to see them flee but I am more fearful for the survival of Ukraine. President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has got my attention here and I am watching him closely even though the media is mostly focused on the tragic side of the conflict.
One of the first things that struck me about Zelenskyy is that he is a proud Jew and a descendent of a holocaust survivor. His grandfather served in the Red Army during the war and his father and three brothers perished. Zelenskyy is a man who is a determined leader for Ukraine. Not a victimised Jew, but a warrior leader of a European nation. For too long Jews in politics have been perceived by the media and the progressive left as fiercely powerful and rich people who bankroll nations. Not this one. When you see a country in the midst of a war you’d expect its leader to flee and become an administrator in exile. But Zelenskyy is different. He has the mettle and the courage to stay and fight and lead his people on the frontline. When offered a way out by American leaders, he responded by saying ‘I don’t need a ride, I need ammunition’.
He is a staunch leader of Ukraine that makes many freedom-loving western leaders look tame and feeble. Not bad for a man who has a backstory that makes him a very unlikely hero. Zelenskyy started off his career as a comedian making light entertainment shows on Ukrainian TV. One of his most famous shows is called ‘Servant of the People’ where he played a fictional teacher who rants on YouTube about corruption in Ukraine, becomes a celebrity and then runs for the presidency. It became remarkable when in 2019 life imitated art and he became president of Ukraine himself. He won 73% of the vote and anyone who thought he was a joke leader who wouldn’t even be a thorn in Russia’s side was about to get a very nasty surprise.
What do I think of him? In this video from his Instagram page Zelenskyy shows the world that he has not fled Ukrainians and deserted them in their darkest hour. He is standing firm in the city on guard with his advisors and the presidential office, ready to take on Putin’s Russian army. He calls on the people to protect Ukraine’s independence and resist Russian aggression to make Ukraine Putin’s next territory to rebuild the Russian Empire. Glory to our defenders, glory to Ukraine.
This may be Putin’s grand plan and his political will has seen him weild a very strong fist of aggression to Eastern Europe. In 2014 there was a political crisis in Ukraine where the country lost Crimea after it decided to self-annex to Russia. Some say that the vote was rigged, and it was considering that it was an illegally held poll. Then there is the state of Belarus, which gained independence from Soviet domination in 1991 but has been under control by the power hungry President Alexander Lukashenko. He has continued Soviet era policies and is very friendly to Russian politicians who have formed an alliance between the two countries to preserve the politics of state authoritarianism. My grandfather’s home nation of Poland is vulnerable to becoming engulfed in this conflict and I am also supportive of Poland’s defence against Russian orchestrated political influences.
Poland is not yet lost and it will defend itself with as much might as Zelensky is doing in Ukraine. What I find most incredibly depressing in the media is how they are reporting more actively on the refugee crisis from the conflict, instead of the bravery and strong will of the Ukrainian people to fight back against Putin. It’s just like during the Brexit process when they were making drama out of a crisis instead of embracing opportunity and determination. It’s pathetic. I have been following more of the story on the fighting and hope that Zelenskyy will fight to the last stand.
I share the same grit and determination for him both as an autistic advocate and a descendent of a Polish soldier. I am with Zelenskyy and I believe that he is a sagacious and brave leader that makes me proud of my Eastern European roots. The Poles and Ukrainians will not stand by and watch their national sovereignty crumble without a fight. They have suffered so much from past tyrants and oppression of themselves that they have had enough of it and will beat them back by their own hands. It’s all to do with keeping your own freedom, individual liberty and conserving your democratic rights. That is the height of aspiration that all people should aspire to in their own nationalistic pride, as so should my fellow autistics to make Ukraine a nation that can overturn years of post-Soviet era living standards for the disabled. Which are squalid and would have been gradually removed if it wasn’t for this war.
Glory to Zelenskyy, Glory to the Self-Determination of the Nation, Glory to Ukraine.