Zelensky's Big Wartime Lines

Communications experts applaud his leadership in crisis
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 3, 2022 7:07 PM CST
Zelensky's Most Inspiring Wartime Quotes
Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky talks to Britian's Prime Minister Boris Johnson during a meeting in London on Oct. 8, 2020.   (Aaron Chown/Pool Photo via AP)

Russia's invasion of Ukraine has put Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in the spotlight like never before, and that's saying something for an actor-turned-politician. According to crisis management and communications expert Edward Segal at Forbes, "how well Zelensky has met and surpassed the challenges of the escalating crisis has been riveting." He's "surprised the world" with "remarkable courage, determination and leadership." A roundup of some of his standout quotes from the last week:

  • 'This is what we are fighting for': In a video shared Thursday, Zelensky contrasted Ukraine and Russia. "We don't have the biggest territory ... we don't have nuclear arms, we don't provide oil and gas to international markets," he said, per Reuters. "But we do have our people. We do have our land. This is what we are fighting for."

  • 'I'm not iconic … Ukraine is iconic': Speaking to CNN Tuesday from his bunker in Kyiv about his transition from actor to wartime leader, Zelensky said: "It's very serious, it's not a movie." Brushing off praise, he added: "I'm not iconic, I think Ukraine is iconic."
  • 'I need ammunition, not a ride': In describing how Zelensky refused a US offer of evacuation from Kyiv, per CNN, Ukraine's embassy in Britain quoted him thusly on Feb. 26: "The fight is here; I need ammunition, not a ride." That's one of several quotes that can now be found on Zelensky fandom sold on e-commerce sites including Etsy, per the Hill.
  • 'This might be the last time you see me alive': His determination in the face of danger only added to the impact. Days earlier, during a video call with European Union leaders, Zelensky noted, "The enemy has marked me as target No. 1 … My family is target No. 2," per Time. According to Axios, he added: "This might be the last time you see me alive."
  • 'You will see our faces, not our backs': He also warned Russians of what they were in for in a speech on Feb. 24. "You are told that these flames will bring freedom to Ukraine. But the people of Ukraine are already free," he said, per Time. "In attacking us, you will see our faces, not our backs."

Such quotes hit home because Zelensky "is able to communicate in a direct way that makes us feel as if he is talking to us individually, not to a huge mass audience," Georgetown University communications professor Jeanine Turner tells Forbes. "He is able to do it in short, concise messages that travel well in headlines, social media, and conversations." University of Tampa adjunct communication professor Kirk Hazlett notes transparency is also key to Zelensky's leadership. And "I, personally, would follow this man into battle without hesitation." (More Volodymyr Zelensky stories.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.