Volodymyr Zelensky Is Still Alive
The Washington Post has an incredible oral history of the first day of the Russo-Ukraine War, full of vivid, jaw-dropping details — including Boris Johnson essentially falling over himself to praise Joe Biden, an amusing historical footnote — but of all the anecdotes, I was most struck by the one from Kaja Kallas, the prime minister of Estonia. She was on the Zoom call Zelensky had with European leaders the night of the invasion, and she notes how Zelensky had no illusions how this might all turn out.
I could see around the room that there were people who were so genuinely shocked, with their physical being, that they couldn’t utter a word. And they were like, ‘We were naive. We should have listened to you,’ all those things … [Zelensky] was saying that ‘I’m in this room, and I don’t know if I’m going to be alive by this evening.’ And he was like, saying goodbye and that ‘We are being bombed, are being hunted. They want to kill me. Probably they’ll get to me.’ And that was so, that was very, what is the right word. Touching is maybe too soft. That was really going to your bones. … The connection was lost. And then it was like, ‘Is this it?’ I mean, very, very creepy.
It was impossible not to be deeply moved, stirred, inspired, downright motivated by Zelensky’s resoluteness in the wake of Putin’s invasion — it was obvious that, eccentric background aside, this was the perfect person to be in charge of this country of brave, relentless warriors. But it was also impossible not to think: Oh my God, they’re gonna kill him.
All told: He seemed to think the same:
Even his tone seems to understand: This might be the last time you hear from me. And why wouldn’t you think this way? He was a new, relatively green leader. Putin was a madman. The Russian Army was thought to be so powerful. That Zelensky was staying to fight, rather than fleeing, was honorable, and exactly what his country needed. But it also felt a little bit like an…