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Opinion: Ukraine’s Volodymyr Zelenskyy has the ‘right stuff’

Zelensky’s leadership encouraged his people to fight and resist the Russian invasion by any means necessary.
<a href="https://highschool.latimes.com/author/edwinbai/" target="_self">Edwin Bai</a>

Edwin Bai

August 2, 2022
In the book “The Right Stuff” written by Tom Wolfe, the author drops many subtle hints and clues as to what is the “Right Stuff” that American astronauts need to have. He starts the story in the setting of the Cold War between the Capitalists and the Communists, more specifically the U.S. and the Soviet Union, in their space race. 

Wolfe describes the “Right Stuff” as having the wits and determination to do what you’re afraid of as well as having a will to be better than those around you and to show others that you have what it takes to be the best. In sum, someone with the “Right Stuff” is basically a hero, someone who can rise to the occasion.  

One such example lies in the leadership and bravery of Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky.

At the onset of the Russo-Ukrainian war in 2022, Zelensky shocked the world by remaining in his country, risking death and even capture by the Russian army to stay and fight with his soldiers, according to the Los Angeles Times. This move surprised many people since most high-ranking officials would often flee at the first sight of danger, like the President of Sri Lanka who fled when a protest erupted at his palace. Zelensky’s display of courage and leadership is the “Right Stuff” Wolfe was looking for in his book.

Despite multiple offers to fly Zelensky out of his country, the Ukrainian president refused, determined to stay with his people in the midst of the war. Zelensky’s leadership encouraged his people to fight and resist the Russian invasion by any means necessary, a tactic that clearly surprised Putin who didn’t expect such dogged resistance, according to NPR. As a result, Russia failed in its blitzkrieg attempt at winning the war, putting it into a disadvantageous stalemate that’s been drawn out for months, according to the European Council of Foreign Affairs

Recently, the war seems to be shifting in Ukraine’s favor, with Oleksiy Valeriyovych Honcharuk, head of Ukraine’s national security council, claiming that Ukraine could possibly even win the war, according to the New York Times. Clearly, Russia is not seeing much success in its war against Ukraine.

On the other side, a large part of Ukraine’s success stems from its bold leader, Zelensky, whose presence and determination reaffirms the notion, not only to his own people but to the entire world as well, that Ukraine can win. 

Though Ukraine’s successes aren’t entirely attributed to Zelensky’s display of leadership, his actions were influential in motivating his fellow citizens to stand up and fight against the invading Russian forces. Moreover, Zelensky’s incredible speaking skills and ability to connect with other world leaders made other countries more receptive to supporting his country in the war in Ukraine, which led to a dedicated foreign supply of arms and munitions. 

Partly due to Zelensky’s leadership, Ukraine was and is able to stand up to one of the most powerful militaries on the planet, defying all expectations and even turning the war in their favor. As demonstrated by his actions, it can be clearly stated that Zelensky does indeed have the “Right Stuff.”

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