Zelenskiy’s Personal Phone Calls to Leaders Accelerated Western Aid

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has taken to personally calling western leaders on the phone in order to agree to a set of sanctions against Russia that only weeks ago were inconceivable. 

From besieged capital city Kyiv, Zelenskiy has been constantly on the phone with leaders across the West, using his Twitter feed to respond to allies and their responses. In this process, sanctions that were previously seen as unimaginable only a week ago have now become the new baseline. 

Personal pleas for help issued directly to EU heads of state and government were also made by Zelenskiy through video links and phone calls while the leaders met at an emergency summit in Brussels last week. It is now being seen as a key intervention moment that directly led to an acceleration of Western support, including weapons. 

Even after his speech to the EU last week, some leaders balked at the idea of imposing drastic sanctions, especially cutting Russia off from the SWIFT international payments system. But over two days, the EU shifted its approach and imposed sanctions personally against Russian President Vladimir Putin as well as Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

The EU then began rolling out pledges of weapons and additional support for Ukraine. 

Looking back on the video plea from Zelenskiy, experts, analysts, and international leaders have said that the president’s emotional intervention was a singular turning point and that it directly persuaded heads of state and government to provide more assistance.

Senior EU officials said that Zelenskiy’s calls have made emotional connections with leaders, and have shown that his country is in a dire situation. 

The laundry list of personal, direct calls to leaders keeps growing. He has spoken to the leaders of the European Commission, France, Italy, Switzerland, India, Turkey, Azerbaijani, Netherlands, UN Secretary-General, Germany, Czech, Poland, and the United Kingdom, among others. 

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