Zelensky’s Videos Are Giving Ukraine a ‘Fighting Chance’

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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky went straight for Americans’ heartstrings Monday when he asked Congress for aid in the country’s war with Russia. He referenced 9/11 and Pearl Harbor and then played a video showing the damage Russians have inflicted on his cities.

And it worked. His voice alone, that video, “gives you confidence that Ukraine’s gonna survive this,” author Francis Fukayama tells co-host Molly-Jong-Fast on this episode of The New Abnormal.

Zelensky, a former actor and comedian, has incredible communication skills as Marie Yovanovitch, former ambassador to Ukraine, notes later in this episode. But according to Fukayama, it’s the earnestness of Zelensky’s messaging and his tech-savvy team that are working in conjunction to capture the attention of the entire world. And it’s enough to win.

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“They’ve got a production team and a lot of very creative people in Kyiv right now that are able to produce a really high-production-value video,” he says. “I think he really understands the psychology of the everyman president that’s been extremely useful in portraying the Ukrainian struggle right now.”

So how does this war end? Both Fukayama and Yovanovitch agree: not with a Russian victory.

“Even if they could take Kyiv, which I don’t believe they can, even if they can somehow dispose of Zelensky, they’re not gonna be able to rule over this big country that’s this mobilized,” says Fukayama.

Yovanovitch went a step further with her prediction: “There will be a guerrilla war and there will be civil disobedience and Russian officers, when they go to restaurants, will be poisoned or something like that. I would not want to be a Russian occupier in Ukraine.”

Yovanovitch, who was removed from her position as ambassador of Ukraine by Donald Trump in 2019, also takes Molly through the events the night she asked to leave the country. She was at a reception honoring the late activist Kateryna Handziuk with other diplomats and officials, including close members of newly elected Zelensky’s circle, when she was told her removal was because her safety was in jeopardy.

Putin’s Own Soldiers Are Refusing to Fight in Ukraine

“When I had a conversation with Deputy Secretary of State John J. Sullivan, he said what that referred to was that I would be fired by tweet by President Trump himself if I didn't actually leave,” she says.

Plus! Molly and co-host Andy Levy discuss the Russian social media influencers who are very mad at Putin because of his Instagram ban and attempt to answer a vital question: Does Kyrsten Sinema understand daylight saving time?

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