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In our social-media era, emotions set the tone. That is why the discourse around the crisis between Ukraine and Russia has been so wrought with emotion. We see this in efforts to find the faintest of personal connections to an acquaintance originally from Ukraine, insults directed at Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, and criticism of those who did not leave the scene of the fighting in time. As this discourse tends to be rather shallow, it is easy to miss a few significant points.

Westerners are barely able to understand Putin’s actions. Those who are not well-versed in the Russian rhetoric Putin uses – for example, his talk of Moscow acting to “de-Nazify Ukraine” – would be surprised by the offensive, which is aimed not just at Ukraine but at everything he sees as Western aggression. Those unfamiliar with the terminology of Mother Russia, Putin’s previous moves, or the systematic way in which he has been annexing Ukraine through military and civilian means since 2014 would indeed be stunned by the current invasion.


Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has shown himself to be highly conscious of the power of media in the campaign. His conduct has bolstered both the sense of the righteousness of the Ukrainians’ path as well as his will to fight for his citizens. Zelenskky has also succeeded in enlisting other countries to fight alongside him. He has not disappeared from the world stage. Every day, he releases new video clips in which he addresses his fellow fighters. He relays these messages in Ukrainian and English.

Zelenskyy has encouraged Ukrainian citizens to share video clips, interviews, and images that depict what is transpiring in the country and the blows they are delivering to Russian forces, but also those that show Ukrainians at their most vulnerable, with the rest of the world. He is not ashamed to, on one hand, show his unwavering patriotism and ability to stand up for himself, and on the other hand, explicitly say he needs help to fight the violent, Russian side.

In contrast to the inexperienced president, Russia’s leader has been largely silent.

Zelenskyy’s conduct led Western countries to stand unconditionally as a complementary force for a country that is fighting mainly with traditional weapons like tanks and missiles on the battlefield and Molotov cocktails in the streets. It does not have advanced cyber weapons, sophisticated intelligence, or nuclear capabilities to our knowledge.

This is the first time that Western states have so clearly come together to support one side in a war and used nearly all of the economic tools at their disposal to send the clear message that they mean business. US President Joe Biden and the West were initially disparaged for making clear they would not be sending any troops into Ukraine, but critics are beginning to understand that they have launched a new kind of campaign that has the potential to bear fruit.

In the war for hearts and minds, in particular, a war that is being conducted in accordance with the West’s “Hollywood” view of there being one weak side and one strong side in a conflict, Zelenskyy’s strategy is working big time. As proof, see the enlistment of an increasing number of world leaders in support of Ukraine and the mass rallies around the globe in support of Kyiv. In the battle for hearts and minds, Russia has already lost.

{Written by Edith Druyan-Ohayon and reposted from IsraelHayom}

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