The war in Ukraine: How does Zelensky keep the world’s attention on his country’s war?

23 June 2022, 04:57 GMT

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Zelensky leads a tireless public relations campaign to secure international support for his country against Russia.

As his soldiers on the front lines confront the Russian invasion, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is leading an intense public relations campaign to ensure that international support for his country does not wane.

These campaigns included a wide range of events, from meetings with a long list of international leaders in Kyiv to photo shoots with celebrities and even hologram appearances at a tech event.

In the face of much larger hostile firepower, Ukraine needs international help in an effort to halt the Russian advance.

To obtain this support, the president’s public relations team has found innovative ways to refocus the world’s attention on the predicament the country faces.

Appeal via hologram

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Appearing via the hologram, Zelensky drew a number of comparisons between what the Russian forces are doing and what the villains in Star Wars are doing.

Last week, Zelensky referred to “Star Wars” when he spoke to technology leaders via holograms during the VivaTech conference in Paris.

“It is unusual for presidents or heads of government to use a hologram to address people,” Zelensky said.

He added, “This is not the only aspect of the “Star Wars” movie that we are implementing on the ground. We will defeat the empire as well,” referring to the Russian forces, which he likened to the “bad guys” par excellence in the world-famous movie.

His speech was intended to offer a “rare opportunity” for tech companies to join the process of rebuilding the country and creating a “fully digital democracy” in Ukraine.

“glitter and charm”

type="image/webp"> type="image/jpeg">US actress and UNHCR Special Envoy Angelina Jolie poses for a photo with children, as Russia's offensive on Ukraine continues, in Lviv, Ukraine, April 30, 2022.>>

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Since the beginning of the war, many celebrities have visited Ukraine and expressed their support for the Ukrainian president.

Awareness of the conflict was spread among world public opinion by a group of high-profile celebrities, who rallied in support of Ukraine, raising millions to help Ukrainian refugees since the start of the war.

Among the most prominent of these celebrities are former football player David Beckham, singer Ed Sheeran, actors Sean Penn, Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis – a Ukrainian.

Actress Angelina Jolie, Special Envoy of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, visited Ukraine in April, where she met volunteers and refugees. Besides, Zelensky himself, a celebrity in his previous career, was not an outsider or out of the limelight, and had adapted well. Comfortable with his supporting cast.

On Monday, he welcomed celebrity actor Ben Stiller, the UN refugee agency’s ambassador, to Kyiv as part of Stiller’s visit to the region on World Refugee Day.

“It’s a great honor for me, it’s really cool, you’re a role model,” the Hollywood star told the president.

Earlier this year, Academy Awards presenter Amy Schumer said she asked Zelensky to Skype the Hollywood stars at the ceremony “because there is a lot of eye on the Oscars.”

Host politicians (or be a virtual guest)

type="image/webp"> type="image/jpeg">Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and French President Emmanuel Macron shake hands after holding a press conference, as Macron, German Chancellor Olaf Schulz and Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi visit Kyiv, Ukraine on June 16, 2022.>>

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Zelensky hosted political leaders as he negotiated his country’s status as a candidate to join the European Union.

Such photographs display alongside a campaign to persuade EU leaders to agree to grant Ukraine “candidate” status to join the bloc, as well as requests for more weapons.

Among the heads of state who have visited Kyiv in recent days are French President Emmanuel Macron, Mario Draghi (Italy), Olaf Schulz (Germany) and Klaus Iohannis (Romania).

The long list also includes British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Canadian Justin Trudeau, but the notable exception is Joe Biden.

The US president has secured billions of dollars and arms for Ukraine, but said he did not want to “cause more difficulties for the Ukrainians” by adding a stop to his next trip to Europe.

Non-Western countries are deeply divided in their position on what is going on in Ukraine, although Zelensky was rallying their support, and he drew attention to the negative consequences of war for the rest of the world in his address to the African Union on Monday.

He said Africans had become “hostages” of war and were in danger of starvation because the war had caused shortages of grain and fertilizer, but the BBC learned that only four of the 55 African leaders invited had attended his address.

But other video conferences have had better attendance, and Zelensky has been praised for speeches to the US Congress, the European Union, and the German, Japanese, French, Spanish, Italian and other parliaments.

Show to the world

type="image/webp"> type="image/jpeg">A print photo provided by Ukraine's Presidential Press Service shows Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky (center) posing for a selfie with medical workers during a visit to a local hospital, in the Black Sea city of Mykolaiv, southern Ukraine, June 18, 2022.>>

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Zelensky challenged Russia to visit the war-torn cities of the south

Zelensky also did his best to show the world the devastation and horrors of war in his country, touring devastated cities and visiting his troops on the front lines and hospitals.

He also made his first trip to the war-torn south of Ukraine on Saturday and toured the city of Mykolaiv.

During his visit, Zelensky inspected damaged buildings and met with soldiers, officials and health workers.

He also visited the city of Odessa in the west of the country, which has been regularly subjected to Russian missile strikes since the start of the war.

In recent weeks, he has visited other front-line cities, including Kharkiv in the east, defying Russian forces to go to areas where the fighting is taking place.

Don’t move on to something else.

type="image/webp"> type="image/jpeg">Zelensky appears on a giant screen during his speech at the opening ceremony of the 75th Cannes Film Festival at the Palais des Festivals in Cannes, France.>>

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Zelensky was given a standing ovation when addressing the Cannes Film Festival in May 2022.

As Ukrainian forces hold out on the front line, the president has demonstrated a determination to ensure that the world does not turn its back on Ukraine at such a critical time.

Zelensky engages with a diverse audience that includes celebrities, world leaders, US university students and international journalism, as well as groups of business leaders from Doha to Davos.

Last month, he stunned the Cannes Film Festival, giving a speech that wasn’t on the program’s opening ceremony and was given a standing ovation.

On Monday, he hinted at the gist of his media campaign as he returned to Cannes (virtually), with the opening of the Lions Festival of Creativity.

“Even in wartime, you can reach the depths of the human soul,” he told an audience of creators.

“You make people talk about issues that everyone would ignore if you didn’t,” he said before making an impassioned plea.

“Speak about Ukraine,” he added. “Don’t let the world turn to think of something else.”

Tags: war Ukraine Zelensky worlds attention countrys war

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