Regime Change: Zelensky
The Ukrainian President is the surprise hero of this invasion. Just two days ago, he was reviled as a dupe. The NYT opinion page said:
Up to 190,000 Russian troops have amassed near Ukraine’s borders and in separatist regions, and an invasion, bringing devastation and disaster, could come at any time. It’s a gravely serious situation. And Mr. Zelensky, a comedian for most of his life, is in over his head.
That was before the tanks came rolling in. Zelensky has done a stellar job rallying his citizens with raw and direct communication. While his selfie video 👇🏾 wouldn’t be out of place in a boy band going to a concert hall, it’s reassuring to see the President, PM and other senior officials of Ukraine standing on the streets of Kyiv like anyone else, promising to fight it out.
He’s in direct and ever present danger to his life and he’s handling it well.
The Ukrainians aren’t rolling over as Putin might have expected. Will the Russian public support a brutal war that kills people whom they consider fellow Slavs with many ties of friendship and marriage? The weeks ahead will tell, but today the fight has come to Kyiv.
You can see a realtime map of where fighting is taking place over here. I don’t know whether to laugh or cry that it’s possible to crowdsource war intelligence.
This could turn incredibly brutal soon, with street fights at every corner. I am reminded of Vassily Grossman’s famous war epic, ‘Life and Fate’ based on the battle for (the then) Stalingrad. Grossman portrays the beginning of the siege so:
He told Mussolini that the Soviets had suffered huge losses. They no longer received supplies of Ukrainian wheat. Leningrad was under continuous artillery bombardment. The Baltic States had been wrested from Russia’s grasp once and for all. German armies had already advanced far beyond the Dnieper. The coal mines, the chemical and metal-processing plants of the Donbass were in the hands of the Fatherland. German fighters now flew over Moscow. The Soviet Union had lost Belorussia, most of Crimea, and many provinces in the heart of the country that had been part of Russia for a thousand years. Russia had been driven from such ancient cities as Smolensk, Pskov, Oryol, Kursk, Vyazma and Rzhev. All that remained—Hitler continued—was to deliver the final blow. But if it were truly to be a final blow, then it must be delivered with fantastic strength.
Sad to see all those names reappear in the annals of war.