Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky shared a video on social media Friday offering a message of resilience 100 days into the Russian invasion and proclaiming that “victory” will belong to Ukraine.
Back then, the aim of his message was clear: to show beyond all fear or doubt that he was committed to stay and fight. This time, Zelensky’s video serves as a reminder that Russia’s early objectives have failed and that, even with Russia occupying as much as a third of the country, Ukrainians will continue to fight.
Standing again on the streets of Kyiv outside the presidential building, Zelensky reintroduces his top officials.
“The leader of [our parliamentary] faction is here, the head of the president’s office is here, Ukraine’s Prime Minister Shmyhal is here, [presidential adviser] Podolyak is here, the president is here,” he says, with his team standing behind him in the same position as in the Feb. 25 video. “Ukraine’s armed forces are here. The most important thing is our people; the people of our state are here.”
“We have been defending Ukraine for 100 days already,” he says. “Victory will be ours.”
Although the new video mirrors the old one, notable differences show how the war has progressed. The first was recorded in the twilight hours on the deserted Kyiv streets, with the president and his staff bathed in the soft yellow glow of street lamps, and wearing the military-style outfits that befitted a wartime leader.
In the new video, Zelensky and his top officials are dressed more casually on a bright, early summer day. The Ukrainian president looks less tired than he did on Feb. 24, though perhaps older than the gap of 98 days would allow.
Russia’s early advances on Kyiv in late February and early March stalled quickly. Some experts believe that Moscow had calculated that the capital city would fall with little fight, and was that they were surprised that Zelensky stayed in Kyiv and that his forces remained loyal in the face of overwhelming odds.
A former actor and comedian, Zelensky has kept in daily communication with his country through social media and other direct addresses, winning over many that had doubted him earlier in his presidency.
Russian forces have shifted focus to the east of the country. On Thursday, Zelensky said that 20 percent of Ukrainian territory had fallen to Russia, with fierce fighting around the eastern city of Severodonetsk.
One view among the Russian elite is that President Vladimir Putin is hoping a lengthy war of attrition will wear down not only Ukrainian forces but also allies in North America and Europe, which have provided arms and supplies to Kyiv while tightening economic pressure on Russia.
At the end of the video released on Friday, Zelensky repeats a patriotic rallying cry.
“Glory to Ukraine!” he says.
“Glory to heroes!” his team behind him responds in unison.