Tuesday, March 1, 2022

Z for Zelenskyy

Who knows what Putin was thinking when he painted Zs on the sides of his tanks and sent them into Ukraine last week. If his aim was to rattle Ukrainian President Zelenskyy and force him to capitulate, he has instead created an international folk hero.

Volodymyr Zelenskyy's entry into politics is a lesson in the impossibilities of the old saying that truth is stranger than fiction. First, he created a Ukranian television show called Servant of the People, in which he starred as a high school teacher still living with his parents who gets elected President after a student films his profanity-laced tirade against corrupt politics and posts it on YouTube. Then he formed a political party, also called Servant of the People, ran for President in 2019, and won with 73% of the vote.

Donald Trump tried to roll the newly-elected Zelenskyy, and got impeached for his trouble. Now Vladimir Putin wants to take his turn in the barrel, but doesn't appear to understand that he is fighting against magic realism. With the Ghost of Kyiv, "Russian warship, go f yourself", Russian POWs calling their mothers, and videos of everyone from old men to teenage girls making Molotov cocktails, Putin has already lost the public relations war.

The conventional wisdom expressed here in 2014 is that Ukraine will eventually succomb to its much larger and wealthier neighbor, Russia. But that was before Zelenskyy and, to quote its national anthem, Ukraine has not yet perished.