The Ukrainian president will face a lot of challenges in 2024, the magazine wrote
Next year will be a big challenge for Europe’s top “dreamer,” Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky, Politico magazine wrote in its annual ranking of influential people published on Tuesday.
The Ukrainian leader has topped the “dreamers” section as “dreamer number one.” The section is a ranking of people “who represent an idea driving the debate,” the magazine explained, with the other two sections listing “doers” and “disruptors” respectively.
Comparing Zelensky to Winston Churchill, Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela, Politico noted that his belligerent rhetoric and publicity stunts helped to convince Western countries to back Kiev’s cause and start arming Ukrainian troops during their fight against Russia.
The year ahead will be “challenging” for Zelensky, however, due to the loss of interest in the conflict from the rest of the world, and because ordinary Ukrainians are “exhausted by two years of battles and struggling to reclaim territory.”
“Zelenskyy has moved from pleading with Western countries for help to lecturing them – and that hasn’t landed quite as successfully as his more uplifting orations,” Politico wrote, using an alternative spelling of the president’s last name.
While still high, Zelensky’s approval rating has dropped from 91% in May 2022 to 76% in October 2023, according to a poll by the Kiev Institute of Sociology (KIIS).
The president now is forced to manage public frustration from the inflated expectations for Ukraine’s much-anticipated summer counteroffensive, which has failed to penetrate Russian defenses and wrestle away any significant territory. Multiple reports suggest that Ukrainian troops suffered heavy losses from artillery fire and drone attacks, and when attempting to cross thick minefields.
In his recent interview, Valery Zaluzhny, Ukraine’s top general, described the situation on the battlefield as “a stalemate.” Zelensky has denied that it was the case, and urged for additional shipments of Western weapons instead.