Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s speech to the Swedish Parliament was his twelfth speech in four days. At midnight he spoke to the nations of the world in English. Six hours earlier, he had spoken to the French Parliament. Six hours before: Japan’s parliament. Six hours before that, at midnight: the Ukrainian people. In that speech, Zelenskyy told about everyone he talked to during the day: the Pope, Canada’s Justin Trudeau and the President of Slovakia, among others.
Unsurprisingly, the Ukrainian president looked worn out on the Riksdag’s big pale computer screen – but still with that genuine charisma that tells the world that he is Putin’s exact opposite – a man.
With controlled despair, he described Russia’s terrorist bombing and all the infrastructure that had been destroyed: industry, hospitals, schools, universities.
“They are wiping out cities, killing civilians, using phosphorus bombs. These war crimes must be punished. ”
Zelenskyy made it clear that Sweden and the democratic world are in great debt to Ukraine.
That Russia has committed war crimes is not only Zelenskyy’s view; it became the US formal stance on Thursday. That kind of ostracism is important. According to some Kremlinologists, it is already shaking in the circles around Putin. On Wednesday, Anatoly Chubais, once Russia’s deputy prime minister, left both his job in the president’s administration and his home country. He greeted that it was in protest against the war.
But the dictator still remains and the war continues. Volodymyr Zelenskyy asked for more sanctions. Do not buy a barrel of oil, not a bowl, do not let Russian ships dock at your ports, he begged.
We can and should do more; Sweden must push on in Brussels. International sanctions cooperation is better than individual measures – the agreement is a demonstration of power in itself. But if the EU loses momentum, Swedish solo manoeuvres should not be ruled out.
The ability to inspire and give power, without painting beautifully, he has in common with Churchill.
Zelenskyy did not mention Ukraine’s long wish list for more weapons. But he made it clear that Sweden and the democratic world are in great debt to Ukraine. Which we absolutely do. Every tank that Ukrainian troops demolish is a lesser threat to us. The Ukrainian soldiers and volunteers who fall and are maimed also fight our battle.
So we must continue to send weapons – even when the war has become “old news” and disappeared from the front pages. Zelenskyy will certainly continue his video tours so that the world does not forget Ukraine, but the news drama is inexorable.
Zelenskyy has been likened to Churchill. The ability to inspire and give power, without painting beautifully, they have in common. Like the ability to see an end to the war: Zelenskyy asked Sweden to help with the reconstruction of Ukraine: Establish twin towns, friend companies, help us organize our society! “Ukraine was beautiful! We will rebuild it. ”
But Winston Churchill had been in Brussels today and made plans with Biden and Stoltenberg. Waved to the audience. He had not spoken to Sweden’s Riksdag via a shaky video link, unshaven and wearing a t-shirt.
Volodymyr Zelenskyy is not like anyone else. Like all historical figures, he is unique.
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