The world spotlight turned to Ukraine in late February, when the Russian army poured over Ukraine’s borders and launched an assault on its main cities.
Some believe that senior Russian strategists have calculated that if Russian forces surrounded Kyiv, 44-year-old President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy would surrender or flee. If so, you’ve miscalculated terribly.
Zelenskyy has embodied the Ukrainian spirit, and courage has seen the occupied nation withstand waves of Russian assaults and even repelled the enemy on certain fronts, despite endless bombing and little regard for civilian life.
But who is the protagonist of this uprising Volodymyr Zelenskyy and where did he come from?
Early Life and Education
Volodymyr Zelensky is a Jewish Russian native speaker who hails from Kryvyi Rih, a city in central Ukraine known as the longest city in Europe at 126 km as it runs along vast ore deposits exploited in the heavily industrialized city.
He is the son of professor and computer scientist Oleksandr and engineer Rymma. Volodymyr completed his law studies in Kyiv before entering the world of comedy and television and founding his own production company, Kvartal 95.
He has been married to First Lady Olena Kiyashko, a screenwriter also from Kryvyi Rih, since 2003. They have two children, 17-year-old Oleksandra Zelenska and nine-year-old Kyrylo Zelensky.
TV career before politics
It was through Kvartal 95 that Zelensky first took on the role of a president when he played a fictional role of the President of Ukraine in a television show servant of the people which was a big hit in Ukraine and aired on national television for four years.
Zelensky has also starred in many feature films in Ukrainian and also provided the Ukrainian voice for Paddington Bear in both films.
At the end of 2018 he was a household name in Ukraine and on New Year’s Eve of that year he announced his intention to run for the presidency. He described himself as an anti-corruption and anti-establishment politician for the people. His messages worked and he easily defeated incumbent President Petro Poroshenko in the 2019 election.
When Zelenskyy came to power, he set about ending the war that had been raging in Donbass since 2014 – initially without much success.
While he tried to negotiate peace deals with separatists and Russia, while urging Ukrainian militias to lay down their arms, the conflict largely raged on. A ceasefire was declared, but numerous violations of it were recorded by all sides.
Zelensky was also at the center of Donald Trump’s impeachment amid allegations that Trump withheld military aid from Ukraine unless Zelensky launched an investigation into Joe Biden’s son Hunter, who sat on the board of Ukrainian company Burisma.
Zelenskyy denied that Trump pressured him to open an investigation.
In the run-up to the invasion, Zelenskyy downplayed the chances of a full-scale invasion to the media and Ukrainians, despite warnings from the US that all signs pointed to a Russian invasion by late February.
As Russia rocketed Kyiv and many other major cities and troops poured into Ukraine, Zelenskyy vowed that every inch of Ukraine would be defended and that the country would never give in to Russian terms and would never flee.
He announced that all men between the ages of 18 and 60 would have to remain in the country during the invasion to defend their homeland, and the Ukrainian government also promised arms and safe entry into Ukraine for any foreign fighters willing to take up arms against the Russian invaders.
Zelenskyy has urged Putin to meet him in person to discuss ending the war and asked him “What are you afraid of?” and has also urged the EU and NATO to allow Ukraine’s accession in the face of the Russian invasion accelerate.
He called on the United Nations Security Council to “depose Russia or dissolve itself” and called for war crimes tribunals over the massacre of civilians on the outskirts of Kyiv in areas previously occupied by the Russian army.
https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/news/volodymyr-zelensky-everything-you-need-to-know-about-the-ukrainian-president-before-he-addresses-the-dail-41524581.html Volodymyr Zelenskyy: Everything you need to know about the Ukrainian President before he speaks before the Dáil