How Zelensky changed the West's response to Russia

Aktual Indonesia - Five days into Russia's brutal invasion of Ukraine, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and his courageous nation have already done more to transform the West's policy toward Russia than 30 years of post-Cold War summits, policy resets and showdowns with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The Ukrainian leader's defiance has inspired and shamed the United States and the European Union into going far further -- and far faster -- in turning Russia into a pariah state than it appeared they were ready to go. By promising weapons and ammunition to Zelensky, 44, the West appears increasingly to be drawn into a possible proxy war with Moscow over Ukraine, even though it is not a NATO member that benefits from the bloc's direct mutual defense agreements.

After insisting last week that sanctions would be graded on a rising curve based on Russian behavior, Washington and its allies have now rushed to personally sanction Putin and have kicked key Russian banks out of the vital SWIFT global financial network. In the most extraordinary shift, Germany, under new Chancellor Olaf Scholz, has pledged to exceed NATO targets for defense spending and has overcome its reticence to send weapons to war zones by vowing to arm Ukrainians fighting Russia's troops. Germany also halted the Nord Stream 2 pipeline bringing vitally needed Russian gas to Western Europe. In another striking moment, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, a Putin protege, has sided with fellow European Union leaders against the Russians. Another autocrat, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who had warm ties with Putin, has invoked a 1930s convention that could complicate Russia's Black Sea naval operations.

And Britain, after long turning a blind eye to oligarch wealth laundered through swank property in London, is belatedly declaring, in the words of Prime Minister Boris Johnson, "There is no place for dirty money in the UK." Even ex-President Donald Trump, who spent last week fawning over Putin's "genius" as the invasion unfolded, felt compelled on Saturday to honor the bravery of Zelensky, whom he once tried to extort using US aid in a telephone call that led to his first impeachment.

The Ukrainian President's heroism has also touched people across the world and set off a torrent of smaller gestures of support. Formula One and European football chiefs have stripped Russia of showpiece events. Russian ballet performances have been canceled in the UK. And some US states are pulling Russian-made vodka off the shelves.

Stateside, 83% of Americans said they favored increased economic sanctions against Russia in response to the invasion, with just 17% opposed, a new CNN poll conducted by SSRS that was released Monday found.

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