Before becoming one of the world’s most recognizable heads of state, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky was a comic actor and entertainer, whose most famous show, “Servant of the People,” imagined him in a role he would one day, unbelievably, come to hold in real life.
But how was it possible for someone with so little political experience to unify and mobilize such an intense outpouring of patriotism of his fellow citizens and, arguably, the creation of a new Ukrainian civic identity in response to the Russian invasion?
According to the new book ‘The Zelensky Effect‘ by co-authors Olga Onuch and Henry Hale, Zelensky’s rise is one that was paralleled by that of Ukraine’s post-Soviet development as a culture and society. In many ways, the authors argue, it could be any Ukrainian president to wear this mantle, as it is a public force.
Zelensky is “a product of a Ukrainian culture steeped in the same sense of civic national belonging and duty that he advocates, advances and now symbolizes.” Henry Hale joins in conversation with Robert Amsterdam about this exciting new book and how they see the conflict playing out with some difficult realities on the horizon.