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Faced with the Russian invasion, the Ukrainian president turns into the leader of the resistance | Ukraine: a country torn between East and West

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Presented by his detractors as a puppet at the mercy of the United States and Russian President Vladimir Putin, the 44-year-old former comedian who became head of state in 2019 silenced critics with his ability to embody determination of its people against the overwhelming military superiority of Moscow.

Don’t panic, we are ready for anything, we will overcomehe launched to his fellow citizens Thursday morning in a video message on Facebook, a few hours after the first Russian strikes and Vladimir Putin’s declaration of war.

The next day, he appeared with his collaborators in front of the presidency building in a new video to show that he was well in Kiev, without bulletproof vest or helmet, at a time when Western leaders, considering him directly targeted by the Russian offensive, are considering ways out for him.

Volodymyr Zelensky.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky

Photo: Getty Images/Sean Gallup

We are all here, our soldiers are here, the citizens, the society, we are all here, to defend our independence, our Statedeclared Mr. Zelensky alongside, in particular, Prime Minister Denys Chmygal.

Every day, the one who had made himself known for roles in humorous television shows appears, to call for the capital to be held, to sweep away rumors of surrender or flight, or even to greet the formation of a international coalition to support Ukraine by sending weapons, medicine, food, fuel and money.

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On Twitter, many commentators around the world expressed their admiration for his reply to US President Joe Biden who offered his help to leave the country if necessary.

This is where the fight is. I need ammo, not a cabaccording to his remarks reported by the Ukrainian diplomacy.

The British historian Andrew Roberts, author of a biography of Winston Churchill, even finds in him accents of the late British Prime Minister during the Second World War.

Among the similarities between the two leaders, the professor at King’s College London cites in an email to AFP incredible personal courage of Mr. Zelensky, his ability to connect directly to one’s peopleand his unshakeable belief in the ultimate victory.

The election in April 2019, after a whirlwind election campaign, of this actor playing a fictional president in a successful series, where he played an honest but naive history teacher who came to power by chance, could have come under the farce or ruse of History.

And this, especially since in front of the other heads of state, Volodymyr Zelensky at first seemed borrowed. His promises to settle the conflict in the east of the country with pro-Russian separatist regions or to fight corruption seemed to ring hollow and his handling of the Covid-19 pandemic was widely criticized.

But the confrontation with Moscow, which places Ukraine at the center of the most serious Russian-Western crisis since the end of the Cold War, has definitely changed its status.

To the point that a Norwegian populist right-wing deputy announced on Saturday that he wanted to propose the Ukrainian president for the Nobel Peace Prize, awarded in Oslo.

He fights for peace and was a huge inspiration to the Ukrainian peoplepleaded Christian Tybring-Gjedde in an interview with the Norwegian daily Dagbladet.

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