Ukraine-Russia: Why Volodymyr Zelensky is playing to change of mood around the war

When Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky appeared in a video to the meeting of the G7 leaders, it was the latest in a long line of appearances across the world.

Just days before, he spoke to revellers at the Glastonbury festival, beaming down from a giant screen as he appealed to anyone whose “freedom is under attack”.

There is no doubt Mr Zelensky is desperate to keep his country’s plight firmly on the radars of not just country leaders, but their populations – and for good reason.

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A survey out last week from the European Council of Foreign Relations found the majority of Europeans want the war to end quickly, even if it means that Ukraine needs to concede some territory.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky gives a speech via video link to G7 leaders.Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky gives a speech via video link to G7 leaders.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky gives a speech via video link to G7 leaders.

There is an element of war fatigue going on. For some people – and for many politicians – problems on the home front are beginning to distract from Ukraine’s appalling situation.

A cost-of-living crisis that could see hundreds of thousands of people plunged into poverty in Scotland alone, has combined with fears of famine in developing countries vulnerable to shortages of Ukraine and ongoing spikes in Covid cases and even concerns of new outbreaks of diseases such as monkey pox and polio.

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European citizens want a quick end to war in Ukraine, poll finds ahead of G7 sum...

His main request now is for countries to send heavy weaponry to help in his battle against Russia, telling G7 leaders that he wants the war to be over by the end of the year, "before winter sets in".

By setting a timescale like this, he is trying to frame the coming weeks as a final push towards the finish line, playing to the change in mood.

Just hours after his message was broadcast, Russian missiles landed on a shopping centre in eastern Ukraine, potentially killing and injuring hundreds of people, although the true figures are not yet known.

On social media, pictures of the burning mall in Kremenchuk were posted alongside images of smoke billowing from the twin towers in New York. Many have called it a “terrorist act”. It has the potential to be the war’s worst civilian attack.

The atrocity demonstrates for those in Ukraine, the conflict has not gone away – nor will it any time soon, with the threat to civilians appearing to intensify as Russia moves away from its war of attrition into a new phase.



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