But first, Vladimir Putin.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has seemingly been everywhere this week.
He has been fighting in the conflict zones, leading from the front. Zelensky has been giving media interviews, trying to build international support for Ukraine’s war effort. He addressed the British House of Commons this week, members of the U.S. Congress, and other world leaders.
Like any good general, Zelensky knows he has to fight on a number of mission-critical battlefronts. In the shooting war, he is outgunned, outmanned, and outmatched by a former KGB strongman and cold-blooded killer with far more experience waging war than Volodymyr Zelensky ever dreamed about- for all the latter’s courage and to his credit.
Conversely, on the world stage, Vladimir Putin can’t touch him. Diplomatically, Zelensky is proving more than a match for Putin. He is certainly more popular than Putin, at home and abroad.
The Russian President has burned a great many bridges during this conflict. Ukraine’s President has built just as many and to spare.
If the Ukraine survives this conflict, indeed if Mr. Zelensky survives this conflict, world powers, corporations and humanitarian organizations stand ready to charge into the breach of what Putin has already done to devastate the Ukraine.
From a casualty count eyewitnesses say is being underestimated, to the long-term economic damage this invasion has already caused; the road forward was always going to be a rough one once the Russian military crossed the Rubicon into the Ukraine on February 24, 2022.
In fact, the road forward has been tough since long before 2014 when Russian forces “annexed” the Crimea and Putin turned his full attention to undermining the Ukraine in advance of the invasion he was obviously planning even then.
That Ukraine’s president is still fighting, on the battlefield and off- still defiant, still working to undermine Vladimir Putin and Russia’s interests, seemingly with his every waking breath- has been an inspiration to many Ukrainians and to the world.
The idea that Ukrainian forces could somehow prevail against Putin without outside help seems improbable. The fact that Ukraine has lasted this long seems impossible.
Whatever the odds, Ukrainians are still resisting the advance of the Russian military. What’s more, President Zelensky has a vision for the future of the world, a plan for world peace once Putin is rebuffed back to Moscow.
During his address to Congress this week, Zelensky eloquently called for more material support from U.S. lawmakers before revealing his post-war dream for stopping future conflicts of this nature before they start.
“We need to create new tools to respond quickly and stop the war,” Zelensky told Congress. “The wars of the past have prompted our predecessors to create institutions that should protect us from war.”
“But they unfortunately don’t work,” he reminded his audience poignantly.
“So we need new ones, new institutions, new alliances, and we offer them,” Mr. Zelensky said. “We propose to create an association, U-24, United for Peace, a union of responsible countries that have the strength and consciousness to stop conflicts immediately, provide all the necessary assistance in 24 hours if necessary, even weapons, if necessary.”
“Sanctions, humanitarian support, political support, finances, everything you need to keep the peace and quickly save the world, to save lives,” he outlined. “In addition, such association, such union could provide assistance to those who are experiencing natural disasters, man-made disasters, who fell victims to humanitarian crisis, or epidemics.”
“Remember how difficult it was for the world to do the simplest thing?” Zelensky asked. “Just to give vaccines, vaccines against Covid to save lives, to prevent new strains. The world spent months, years doing things like that much faster to make sure there are no human losses, no victims.”
“Ladies and gentlemen, Americans, if such an alliance would exist today, that is U-24, we would be able to save thousands of lives in our country, in many countries of the world,” he proposed.
During his speech, Zelensky showed members of Congress a video revealing some of what Russian troops have done to the Ukraine in only three weeks.
“We have to stop it,” he implored American officials. “We must prevent it, preventively destroy every single aggressor who seeks to subjugate other nations.”
In closing, Mr. Zelensky called on U.S. elected officials to be “leaders of peace” and implored them to take immediate action to help the Ukrainian people.
What impact Zelensky’s efforts will have on the next few days remains to be seen, but whatever happens, it is clear that Ukraine’s President is not done fighting for his country and the Ukrainian people.
(contributing writer, Brooke Bell)