As a representative of the attacking party, Zelensky’s message carries extra weight. “His citizens are under attack, so if he shows anger, we immediately believe him,” de Jong says. According to him, it is useful for the boss to speak clearly in short sentences with simple words.
According to the professor, the choice to replace his suit with the army’s signature green jersey is now also a bull’s-eye. It highlights the gravity of the situation and reinforces Zelensky’s image as a sober leader. “He’s like a tough guy who just came out of the ditch.”
‘Grazie’, but no ‘danke’
The president adapts his tone to the country he is addressing. It addresses presidents who are doing well in Zelensky’s eyes, such as those of Poland and Canada. Sometimes he also throws a thank you note in the local language, like arigato in Japan and Thanks In Italy.
In the Berlin Bundestag, on the other hand, no Thanks He said. Zelensky also addressed the chancellor by his last name, Schulze. “You notice that with his message he wants to choose to pressure a country, like Germany, or give thanks in particular, like Poland.”
In the Israeli Knesset, Zelensky appears to have overused his hand. He described it as incomprehensible that the Israeli government hardly participates in the sanctions against Russia, and that the state does not provide military support to Ukraine. He made the comparison with the Holocaust, which is a very sensitive issue in Israel.
Many Israeli politicians felt that Zelensky had gone too far. After the speech, Israel’s policy toward Russia hardly changed, if at all.
Does talking like this help?
In fact, it is impossible to say to what extent presidential speeches in Kyiv have a direct consequence in terms of emergency pledges or aid. Many factors play a role in this.
According to Criekemans, the media campaign by the Ukrainian government as a whole certainly contributed to the extensive military and humanitarian support from abroad. But despite that support, it’s still a battle between David and Goliath, the expert asserts.
Zelensky could give speeches in dozens of countries, but this would not change the situation in the Donbass. According to the expert, it is inevitable that Russia will eventually capture this eastern region.
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