Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has shown himself to be a powerful speaker—receiving standing ovations from the EU two weeks ago and the U.S. Congress today. But Ukrainian First Lady Olena Zelenska is also a skilled communicator, making headlines with her recent message to the world, which she summarized with two words: “STOP WAR.”
Though some polish is lost through the translation process, her missive, sent “to the world” via ABC News last Sunday, is both powerful and passionate.
Zelenska began by citing issues many can relate to—the desire for peace and concern for their loved ones. She wrote: “I guess my message is very similar to the one the whole world delivers. Only two simple words: STOP WAR…As every woman in Ukraine, now I fear for my husband.”
Zelenska, who has been married for 18 years, continued, ”Every morning before I call him, I pray everything goes well. I also know how strong and enduring he is. He is able to withstand anything, especially when he defends people and things that he loves.”
Making clear who the villain is, Zelenska questioned whether or not Putin and his associates have empathy— “whether or not they have ordinary and sincere human feelings.”
“Ask yourself these questions and you will understand the difference of views on this war,” she wrote.
“Today, our country and our civilians pay a very high price for the silence and hesitation regarding this issue. Yesterday, it was innocent women and children in the maternity hospital in Mariupol. We have lost more than 71 children because of the Russian war — it is genocide of the Ukrainian people,”
Zelenska added, “Moreover millions of people are suffering in Mariupol, Kharkiv, Irpin, Sumy and other cities. They don’t have water, food, and medicine. Russian soldiers are blocking humanitarian aid. We need to stop it. By saying ‘we,’ I mean the whole world.”
Zelenska urged people around the world to come to their aid before it is too late, and chided world leaders for their weak resolve and inaction:
“Citizens of America, Europe and the whole world” to hold their leaders responsible for “silently observing for decades while the regime, where you cannot express your opinion, where the nation has been turned into slaves, grew and strengthened.”
“Leaders have lost their chance for respect. But you haven’t yet!”
Zelenska urged. “Today, the key life decisions are made in the offices of people who YOU elected as leaders in your countries. These are YOU who gave and keep giving the right to act on your behalf. And when they do not act, when they let our kids die — these are YOU who give them this right.”
Encouraging the world to follow Ukraine’s lead, Zalenska wrote:
“Every day of our fight increases the price that Ukraine pays for securing these values. Surely, in this fight as a nation, we become stronger and tougher. I wish the sanctions against Russia from the U.S. and E.U. become the same: stronger and tougher.”
Asking for more than well wishes, dollars, and prayers, Zalenska petitioned:
“We ask NATO to close our sky on behalf of all the people of Ukraine, or at least provide us with aircraft so we can defend our sky by ourselves.”
Zelenska closed her message by commending the courage of Ukrainian women and soliciting the support of women in America:
“You are giving life in the bomb shelters, calming children with lullabies, while Russian aviation keeps destroying our peaceful Ukrainian cities,” adding, “I admire your power. The power that becomes tougher than a hammer.”
“[And] I appeal to you, women in America, and ask to support Ukrainian women and children who escaped from war and are looking for a shelter in your country. These days every act of kindness and humanism is vital while we are bravely fighting for freedom for Ukraine, for Europe, for the whole world.”
Some have likened the Zelensky communiques to Churchill’s dramatic presentations during WWII or FDR’s comforting “Fireside Chats” during the Great Depression. The question is: Are they enough to rally the world behind them?
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