Volodymyr Zelensky has a message for Americans about democracy.
September 4, 12:05 a.m.
It is night in Ukraine at the moment. Another week of war is over. And probably no one in Ukraine will remember which week of the war it was. It is the first minutes of a new Monday. The day when most of the world will simply return to work after the weekend. The day when Ukraine will continue to fight for its life. This is our job now. No weekends, no vacations. When every day and every week matter. And every trip like this.
Now I am on the road. Together with a few team members, we are heading to the front line. This week will begin for me at the front. Visiting our combat brigades. Talking to commanders and soldiers.
When a nation is at war, it is never enough to hear from headquarters generals only. You need the experience of those who have stormed enemy positions themselves. Younger commanders and soldiers look the war in the face. And the roar of artillery that accompanies such conversations adds special weight to the words. They choose what to say. Yet not to lie. But to make sure that every word turns into a decision.
The front line does not tolerate empty words. The previous time, during the same trip, we managed to visit sixteen of our brigades. Sixteen conversations. In some ways similar.
But in many ways special. Like different communities of people, each brigade has its own character, its own best abilities, and its own history, which affects how specific soldiers act in specific circumstances at the front.
They have different combat missions. They have different commanders. And they have different frontline areas. But no matter how diverse the front line is, when you sit down with the soldiers, their eyes are equally proud. They respect themselves. And they know why. And they know what they want.
And I am proud of our soldiers. They have been through many battles, have fought and are still fighting for the best thing that can happen to a nation—for freedom and dignity.
They don’t want to wait. They want to move forward. And the most valuable thing iswhen you realize that they trust you.
Ukraine’s wartime democracy, at least here in our part of the world, has shaken the dust from everything that is considered to be the foundations of democracy. The weight of words. The common goal. The equality of different people. The pride of free people.
Unity. The trust without which there is no unity.
Will we preserve all this after our victory in the war? And will Ukrainian peacetime democracy be as inspiring as a democracy that fights for itself? And why, when there was no mortal threat to the nation, were the values of our democracy so easily shadowed in the frippery of everyday life?
Is it always necessary to have an external enemy who does not stop at terror to make people remember how important internal unity is and how valuable it is to care about each other, even if he or she is different from you and you may never see each other again?
Every today allows a nation and a person to change the baggage of any yesterday. And gives the basis for the future we want. Every today, if it is not wasted. I will do everything to ensure that Ukrainian democracy retains its foundations and the unity of the nation even after we expel the Russian occupiers.
And of course I do not wish any other nation to find itself on the path that Ukrainians had to take in defense of our lives. But please, take our experience of unity. Take our energy of unity. Take our ability to find support in those around us in society so that everyone does not end up in captivity.
The future is too important to just wait for it, and the road to it must be overcome. Go ahead and take it! The result depends only on you.