This is top-notch propaganda, made more interesting by the fact that Zelensky’s narration is in English, not Ukrainian. Ask yourself: Whose morale is it designed to boost?
we will win
there will be new cities
there will be new dreams
there will be a new story
there will be, there’s no doubt
and those we've lost will be remembered
and we will sing again, and we will celebrate anew
— Ukraine / Україна (@Ukraine) March 20, 2022
The idea that Ukraine will become great, at least relative to Russia, is no idle boast. Yesterday he warned Moscow that unless the war ends soon, “Russia’s losses will be such that it will take you several generations to recover,” which is plausible. It’s not just that young Russians are dying by the thousands on the battlefield at a moment when the country is depopulating and suffering from sudden brain drain. It’s the fact that post-war Ukraine is likely to integrate economically with Europe while Russia faces isolation and autarky. Twenty-five years from now, which country will be more prosperous and dynamic?
The video above was released on a day when Zelensky made a rare misstep in his appeals to friendly nations to do more to help Ukraine. He often resorts to mentioning traumatic episodes from their own histories to help them grasp Ukraine’s suffering. He told Congress that Ukraine is facing a 9/11 and Pearl Harbor every day. He told Germany that the slogan “never again” is meaningless unless Berlin takes a stronger stance against Russia. He tried another Holocaust analogy when addressing Israel’s Knesset — and it didn’t go over well:
“His criticism of Israel was legitimate, as was his raising expectations of us, but not his infuriating and ridiculous comparison to the Holocaust and his attempt to rewrite history and to erase the role of the Ukrainian people in the attempts to exterminate the Jewish people,” Religious Zionist Party leader Bezalel Smotrich said, according to The Jerusalem Post.
Israel’s Communications Minister Yoaz Hendel tweeted that while he “supports the Ukrainian people in heart and deed…comparison to the horrors of the Holocaust and the final solution is outrageous.”
Yuval Steinitz, who serves as part of Israel’s Likud Party, said the Ukrainian president’s statement “borders on Holocaust denial.”
“War is always a terrible thing…but every comparison between a regular war, as difficult as it is, and the extermination of millions of Jews in gas chambers in the framework of the Final Solution is a complete distortion of history,” he added, according to The Times of Israel.
It sounds like Zelensky realized afterward that he had crossed a line, as he retreated in a conciliatory message last night:
and we are very grateful for it. Sooner or later we will start talks with Russia, maybe in Jerusalem. This is the right place to make peace – and it’s possible.” 2/
— Lahav Harkov (@LahavHarkov) March 21, 2022
Back to the video. At whom is this English-language clip aimed? I assume he’s laying the groundwork to make a post-war pitch to the west for a new Marshall Plan for his country. But maybe he’s also anticipating that, with the war about to turn uglier, some of Ukraine’s allies might start to get cold feet. The more Russia escalates and the more horrific the scenes of death and devastation, the more the west may calculate that Ukraine’s cause is hopeless and fear that continuing military aid risks inviting dramatic brinksmanship by Putin. If so, I think Zelensky’s worry is unfounded: Given the casualties Russia has taken and their now-famous logistical problems in the field, the west is more bullish on Ukraine’s chances of a strategic victory than it was two weeks ago. Plus, the White House has already warned of a “severe” penalty if Russia uses WMD, the escalation everyone fears.
I don’t think U.S. or European resolve will flag. But you can understand why Zelensky might want to deliver a pep talk sporadically, just in case.