1 is a previous comedian actor who grew to become president in 2019 as a political amateur. The other a one particular-time KGB agent now in electricity for in excess of two a long time.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and Russian President Vladimir Putin had been equally born in the Soviet Union and share the similar initial names. But the similarities stop there.
The bitterly private confrontation among the two guys is at the coronary heart of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, with their private and political futures at stake alongside with the destiny of the state.
Zelensky, forty four, hunkers down in central Kyiv amid the Russian bombardment at personal quarters with his security squad and closest aides.
Putin, sixty nine, in the meantime sits in the Kremlin acquiring guests in accordance to the strictest protocols, with the length he sits even from near ministers at huge tables mocked on social media.
The two guys have satisfied encounter-to-encounter only the moment — when French President Emmanuel Macron hosted them alongside with then-German Chancellor Angela Merkel for talks in Paris on Ukraine in December 2019.
Due to the fact then, Zelensky has develop into these an implacable enemy of Putin that the Russian president in no way refers to him by title, just like his key domestic opponent Alexei Navalny.
Putin as an alternative refers to the Jewish president, who was elected in 2019 polls and broadly admired by the intercontinental neighborhood, as the head of the “Kyiv routine” or the chief of a “gang of drug addicts and neo-Nazis.”
Macron, in an tackle to the country late Wednesday, drew a stark distinction among the two guys stating Putin “selected war” although Zelensky is “the encounter of honour, independence and bravery”.
– ‘Servant of the people’ –
Although Putin was consolidating his management in excess of Russia in the initial yrs of the new millennium, Zelensky was developing his output firm Kvartal ninety five and a name as one particular of Ukraine’s most outstanding showbiz personalities.
Just in excess of a calendar year soon after Putin annexed the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea and backed separatists in the country’s east, Zelensky in 2015 commenced starring in the present that propelled him to stardom.
The comedy drama was identified as “Servant of the Individuals” and tells the tale of Vasyl Holoborodko — performed by Zelensky — a historical past trainer who will become president soon after a rant about corruption goes viral.
In one particular episode, the Holoborodko gets a contact from German chancellor Angela Merkel congratulating Ukraine on signing up for the European Union and skips with pleasure — only to be informed she has identified as the improper amount and intended to contact Montenegro.
This 7 days Zelensky — the genuine president that is — signed the software for Ukraine to sign up for the EU.
In 2019, with the country’s politics in turmoil, Zelensky entered the fray and received the presidential elections in a landslide, contacting his occasion “Servant of the Individuals”.
His election was greeted coolly by the Kremlin and Putin, who in no way confirmed substantially curiosity in participating with Zelensky, even soon after the 2019 Paris summit.
In an tackle to the country hrs forward of the Russian invasion, Zelensky stated the Kremlin experienced not responded to a ask for for phone talks in a grim indicator that war was around.
Zelensky’s yrs in electricity even in advance of the war experienced by no suggests been untroubled, with accusations from critics at property that he lacked knowledge, utilized his previous company companions as top rated aides and experienced developed up offshore prosperity.
But as a wartime chief he has excelled, supplying virtually everyday movie addresses dressed in a T-shirt and with rising stubble to present he has remained in Kyiv even with the bombardments.
– ‘Go home’ –
Although Zelensky has taken cheery selfies with his ebullient defence minster, Putin has slice an more and more isolated determine with even his Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu — a near mate and getaway companion — retained at a length at the other stop of the notoriously prolonged Kremlin desk.
Stewart Patrick, senior fellow in world wide governance at the Washington-primarily based Council on Overseas Relations, stated Putin experienced succeeded in turning Zelensky into “an intercontinental hero”.
“There is almost nothing much more threatening to a despot, it appears, than a performing (if imperfect) democracy up coming doorway.”
Time journal even set Zelensky’s remarks from an tackle in Ukrainian to the EU parliament this 7 days on its entrance include — “Zhittya permozhe smert – a svit temryavu” (Existence Will Gain About Demise – Mild Will Gain About Darkness).
French international minister Jean-Yves Le Drian stated Thursday that Putin wished for the “negation of Ukraine” to prevent getting “democratic styles on his doorstep”.
Zelensky has stated he fears he is the amount one particular concentrate on of the Russian invasion but on Thursday also identified as for talks with Putin as the only way to stop the conflict.
“If any individual thinks… Ukraine will surrender he is aware almost nothing about Ukraine and has almost nothing to do in Ukraine,” Zelensky stated in his most up-to-date movie tackle in an evident information to Putin.