Zelensky's eventual destruction in... Britain

In my country, it seems Ukraine is a successful feelgood cause.

And who can doubt the ability of the British to recognise good causes, and support them? The eventual Sir Volodymyr Zelensky is most probably adored in households across Britain, in a similar way to Sir Jimmy Savile, who was to be followed by Sir Tony Blair.

What surer security is there against being discredited, than the favour of the British public?

The movie

Everyone in Britain seems to assume the war in Ukraine will end swiftly and righteously in Ukraine’s favour, for no reason other than our belief that Ukrainians are playing the hero role and the Russians are the villains of the story. Many people are so accustomed to dramatic structure, from the entertainment they consume, that they are quick to assume they know how history ends. They think we are just a little more than half way through this story.

But what if the war doesn’t end? What if, like the War on Terror, this movie just goes on and on, until we just decide to leave the cinema?

The arrest

What if Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky’s term goes on and on, with no elections, due to the war and the complete lack of opposition in the country? What if we see him presiding over a country in ruins, inhabited by a disease-ridden, war-fatigued, starving population with no way out in the conflict with an uncompromising Russia, even while retaining power after five or even ten years? What if, under the pressure of the war, there are increasing arbitrary executions of suspected traitors and defeatists by his regime? Worse for audiences, what if his beard grows long and he becomes unsightly, unsanitary or insane? What storytelling would work for him, then?

Eventually, prolonged war could turn Ukrainians against Zelensky or turn our own country against him, as he could be associated with a certain phase of war that could become inconvenient to us as we become more level-headed about the conflict. Zelensky himself may try to stay in power indefinitely, afraid that he will be used as a scapegoat or face some sort of prosecution under the next administration, if he leaves office. Remember that he himself tried to have his political rivals arrested, including former president Petro Poroshenko.

If Zelensky is arrested, then our obligation to encourage Ukraine as an ally will require our media to go after Zelensky and destroy him, just as easily as we had built him up and lionised him.

The long struggle

In the West, the public will become fatigued by the propaganda if the war drags on, like it did with the former Syrian rebels, now reduced to shabby terrorists at the country's fringes. We originally thought the Syrian rebels were brave, portraying them like rock stars, but that image sagged as ISIS grew and the image of those rebels turned into dying victims in Aleppo, rather than brave victors marching on Damascus for democracy.

People are receptive to simplistic messages and marketing at first, but it begins to wear thin if the same level of enthusiasm is being continuously demanded of them. If a face is shown to us long enough, we will begin to find it ugly. Zelensky's scowling, bearded face will be no different and people will begin to suspect something is hideous about him.

Wars are no longer fought over a few years, with a clearly marked turning point or end. Almost every war now seems to last immeasurably long, and only be ended out of fatigue. The Russians feel they have a centuries-long bond of blood with lands that encompass Ukraine, where millions of Russian soldiers died in the Second World War, whereas our connection to that land is nothing more than a simplistic marketing and messaging campaign that began in February 2022. An influx of Ukrainian refugees does not create any strong personal or cultural bond between Britain and Ukraine, other than as a fleeting illusion. As such, the long-term investment, emotional commitment and willingness to endure hardship in this conflict is more likely to be on the Russian side than ours.


As the hardship of the Ukrainian conflict may really affect us, like Covid measures did, Western populations could become fatigued by the efforts to prop up Ukraine after only two years, thereafter deciding to actively scorn and mock the Ukrainian cause. This would be in stark contrast to the twenty years it took for us to give up in Afghanistan and no longer care what happened to the regime in Kabul. The handling of dissent in Western regimes, where authorities simply try to brand anyone who raises questions as an enemy or a cretin, is also extremely ineffective and just increases resistance to whatever message the government tries to spread.

It is likely that the Russians will never grow tired of the conflict in Ukraine, no matter how bad we try to make it for them, as to them Ukraine is sacred ground lit by their memorials and eternal flames. Western media can claim the Russians are just temporary invaders, but the Russians see themselves as holy warriors fighting on their own territory. Our pretence as if Russia had just invaded Switzerland, and so doesn't belong there, is purposely ignorant and we know it.