Tag Archives: Volodymyr Zelenskyy

Observations of an expat: crunch meeting

Next Thursday and probably Friday and possibly the weekend – will be one of the most important dates in world history. NATO and EU leaders meeting in Brussels will decide – or not to decide – what to do in Ukraine.

Ukraine will then decide whether to continue fighting and how. Ditto Vladimir Putin.

Australia, Japan and South Korea’s foreign and defence policies will be dramatically affected. China may come off its rickety fence. India and the OPEC countries will have to make big decisions under heavy pressure from both sides of the warring coin.

International markets – stock markets, commodity markets, oil and gas markets—will either plunge or soar at the news from Brussels.

The world will wait to hear whether we have moved a giant step closer to nuclear Armageddon or inched away from it.

The variations are endless and each has known and unknown consequences. With the threat of nuclear war hanging over every decision, the room for error is nil.

If Vladimir Putin did not possess the world’s largest nuclear arsenal then the answer would be relatively easy: Attack and drive the Russians out. But he does, and he has threatened to use them. The question then arises: Is Putin Bluffing?

More to the point, can the Western Alliance afford to risk the possibility that he is not bluffing?

If he is not bluffing then there is an accepted three-stage nuclear escalation with a pause after the first two to give either side an opportunity to back off: battlefield nuclear weapons which would probably be confined to Ukraine; Intermediate-range nuclear weapons which would be confined to European targets and, then of course, strategic systems which would involve hitting the US.

Putin, however, refuses to play by the rules. He may go straight for American targets, which is why Joe Biden will block anything that could lead to a nuclear exchange.

So the option of committing NATO troops to Ukraine is off the table because Putin has threatened to respond with the nuclear option. That is, it is off the table for now.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 22 Comments

Ed Davey calls for an honorary knighthood for President Zelenskyy

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Volodymyr Zelenskyy was given the unprecedented opportunity to address a packed Commons yesterday by video link. You can see his speech here if you missed it.

His speech echoed Churchill’s oratory:

We will fight at sea, we will fight in the air, we will protect our land. We will fight everywhere… and we will not surrender.

He received a standing ovation, which again is very rare in Westminster.

That appearance fully justifies Ed Davey’s call to award him an honorary knighthood. Ed said:

At this dark moment, we must be offering President Zelenskyy and the Ukrainian people not just our support but our recognition too.

For decades, many heroes of liberal democracy from across the globe have been rewarded with an honorary knighthood here in the UK. President Zelenskyy should follow in the footsteps of individuals like Nelson Mandela, and be awarded this honour.

I hope the UK Government will get behind the Liberal Democrats’ call to give President Zelenskyy an honorary knighthood. It is the very least we can do, as we step up our offer of support to the people who elected him.

Posted in News | Also tagged | 23 Comments

Zelenskyy’s party is welcomed by ALDE

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We have all found a new hero over the last week: Volodymyr Zelenskyy, President of Ukraine.

I must admit that I knew very little about him, or indeed the history of Ukraine, until this week, but his story is a fascinating one. Zelenskyy worked as an actor and comedian, and he voiced Paddington Bear in the Ukrainian-dubbed version of the film.

He formed a production company Kvartal 95 which launched a popular comedy TV series called “Servant of the People”. In the series he plays a teacher who is unexpectedly elected as the President of Ukraine. Watch a prescient subtitled episode here. (You couldn’t make it up …)

Ukraine has dozens of active political parties, so its Governments are always multi-party coalitions. In 2018 a new political party was registered; it grew from the Party of Decisive Change and was named Servant of the People (sometimes romanized as Sluha Narodu), after the show. Indeed, its first leader was the CEO of Zelenskyy’s production company Kvartal 95.

Then came the Presidential election in 2019. In the final run-off Zelenskyy, standing for Servant of the People, beat the incumbent with over 70% of the vote. He immediately called a general election and the party was successful in winning a substantial number – 254 – parliamentary seats. This was followed by the 2020 local elections when Servant of the People won more seats than any other party.

Posted in News | Also tagged | 8 Comments
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