They were six words that galvanized a nation and millions of people the world over: ”I need ammunition, not a ride.” So said Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in response to an American offer of evacuation in the early days of the war. Later, questions were raised as to whether Zelenskyy had actually used those words, but in retrospect it almost doesn’t matter; there are now memes and T-shirts that use the phrase, and — more important — Zelenskyy himself has evolved in almost Shakespearean fashion, from comic actor and unpopular president to wartime leader who draws comparisons to Winston Churchill.
If battlefield strategy is a commander in chief’s primary concern, a close second is strategic communications, and here Zelenskyy may have no peer. This collection of photos is a reminder of how the Ukrainian leader has used his own gifts and the tools of traditional and social media to push his country’s message and bolster the spirits of his people.
Even in these few images, it’s hard not to wonder how the war might have gone had Zelenskyy chosen instead to take that ride two and a half months ago.