Ukraine

Ukraine: How is 'voice of resistance' Volodymyr Zelensky uniting his people?

"A patriot and a performer and he's putting on the performance of his life" – how Volodymyr Zelensky is leading Ukraine's resistance.

Volodymyr Zelensky has played a visible role in rallying the Ukrainian people and sustaining their morale amid an aggressive Russian invasion.

The Ukrainian president has spoken strongly of his country's proud national identity, the might of his troops' defence against Russian forces, and an unbreakable will of the people to maintain democracy in their homeland.

Before his election to the presidency in 2019, he was better known in the entertainment world as a TV satirist and comedian.

Ironically, he created the production company Kvartal 95, which produced 'Servant Of The People', in which he played a high school teacher who accidentally becomes president after a video of him condemning government corruption went viral on social media.

Indeed, there were many who questioned Mr Zelensky's pedigree when he took up the reins of political responsibility.

So, how has the ex-entertainer managed to galvanise a nation in complete crisis, and receive almost-universal praise from world leaders and the international public with his now-famous addresses?

"He's a patriot and a performer and he's putting on the performance of his life," said Colonel Tim Collins, formerly of the Royal Irish Regiment – a man who most certainly understands the power of words – his eve of battle speech to his troops in Iraq made headlines around the world.

Volodymyr Zelensky with Ukrainian military personnel prior to Russia's invasion of Ukraine (Picture: Ukrainian Defense Ministry/UPI/Alamy Live News).

Col Collins described Mr Zelensky as a "courageous politician... who is using rhetoric to inspire his people".

Compared to Russian President Vladimir Putin's "huge demoralised force of conscripts", he said: "You can see who's winning here."

The colonel explained how Mr Putin's soldiers are "deserting, weeping, calling for their mothers", while the Ukrainians are inspired with "even more bombardment, even greater heights".

"Ultimately, he's become the face of Ukraine and he's become the face of resistance and he's become the voice of resistance," Col Collins continued.

Mr Zelensky, 44, has also shown he is unwilling to leave his people, reportedly rejecting an offer from the US to evacuate him from Ukraine. He wishes to show Putin he is not going to back down, while also continuing to show his humanity.

Colonel Collins said it's critically important that Mr Zelensky and his people can maintain their "status as the good guys”.

In pictures: One week since Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

He explained: "An important part of that is to make sure that they are seen to treat the enemy well.

"It's not about killing Russians; it's about defeating Putin.

"In order to defeat Putin, what he [Zelensky] must do is, like a judo throw, is turn the weight of Putin against him.

"Putin's weight is his people, and so by turning his people against him, that's how they will succeed and the way to turn his people against him is to act honourably and generously to those who don’t wish to fight anymore."

Can President Zelensky continue to galvanise his people and military, as even more Ukrainians flee their homeland amid relentless Russian shelling?

Colonel Collins believes the Ukrainian leader has instilled hope that will see the nation through this most brutal of tests.

"He has become the face of resistance. Resistance exists and a bit like what happened to Osama Bin Laden – he became more than the sum of the parts. He became a rallying symbol," Col Collins told us.

"I think he's established himself already in history. I hope he lives to enjoy his victory, for there will be a victory, I'm in no doubt."

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Video thumbnail image: Ukrainian Defense Ministry, UPI, Alamy Live News.