As a representative of the attacked side, Zelensky’s message was given extra weight. “His compatriot was attacked, so if he shows anger, we immediately believe it,” said De Jong. According to him, it is better for the president to speak clearly in short sentences with simple words.
According to the professor, the choice to exchange his suit for the army green shirt that is now his trademark is also right. This accentuated the seriousness of the situation and strengthened Zelensky’s image as a sober leader. “He looks like a strong man who just came out of a ditch.”
‘Grazie’, but no ‘danke’
The president also adjusts his tone of voice to the country he is going to. He spoke to presidents who were good in Zelensky’s eyes, like Poland and Canada. Sometimes he also says thank you in the local language, like arigato in Japan and Thank You in Italy.
In the Bundestag in Berlin, on the other hand, no Thank You said. Zelensky also called the Chancellor by his last name Scholz. “You notice that with his message he wants to choose to pressure the country, like Germany, or especially to thank, like Poland.”
In the Israeli Knesset, Zelensky appears to have overplayed his hand. He called it incomprehensible that the Israeli government barely participates in sanctions against Russia, and that it does not provide military support to Ukraine. He made comparisons with the Holocaust, which is particularly sensitive in Israel.
Many Israeli politicians feel that Zelensky has gone too far. After the speech, Russia’s policy in Israel has hardly changed, if at all.
Would such a speech help?
It’s actually impossible to say to what extent the presidential address from Kiev had any immediate effect in terms of pledges or emergency assistance. Too many factors play into that.
According to Criekemans, the information campaign carried out by the Ukrainian government as a whole has certainly contributed to extensive military and humanitarian support from abroad. But despite that support, it remains a battle between David and Goliath, the pundit stresses.
“Zelensky can give speeches in dozens of countries, but that won’t change the situation in the Donbas,” Criekemans said. It is inevitable that Russia will eventually take this eastern region, according to the expert.
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