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Facing a war of attrition – what are the next steps for President Zelensky?

The president has risen magnificently to the challenge of leading a nation fighting against invasion but the strain of such an effort would be felt by any administration, writes Mary Dejevsky

Sunday 24 July 2022 21:30 BST
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Volodymyr Zelensky has become a familiar figure far beyond Ukraine’s national borders
Volodymyr Zelensky has become a familiar figure far beyond Ukraine’s national borders (Anadolu Agency/Getty)

However the war in Ukraine ends – and some day it surely must – one man will go down as the standard-bearer for his nation following the Russian invasion, and in the longer sweep of history, perhaps, as the leader who forged the modern identity of Ukraine.

As a novice president halfway through his first term, Volodymyr Zelensky rose magnificently to the challenge of the greatest emergency any country can face, and it is largely thanks to his inspirational example that, five months after the Russians launched their multi-pronged assault, Ukraine is fighting on.

With his trademark khaki T-shirt and light stubble, his nightly television broadcasts and his Zoom meetings around the world, Zelensky has become a familiar figure far beyond Ukraine’s national borders, and has imprinted his country on to every international map. Alongside his almost incomprehensible personal courage, Zelensky has also shown an ability – beyond his natural gifts as an actor – to reflect the many shades of the national mood: from good cheer to abject grief; from burning anger to grim determination. By now, the toll of the conflict is etched in the lines on his forehead, transforming him from a youthful-looking television performer into a seasoned war leader in less than half a year.

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