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Volodymyr Zelensky: Not Exactly a Champion of Democracy

Ukraine's President Zelensky. Image Credit: Creative Commons.

American supporters of Washington’s Ukraine policy often portray Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelensky as a noble champion of democracy who deserves even more U.S. military assistance than he has already received. The political and media love-fest accompanying Zelensky’s address to a joint session of Congress in late December 2022 was a recent example of such hero worship

Volodymyr Zelensky: A Misguided Love Affair? 

Voice of America published an article comparing Zelensky’s appearance to Winston’s Churchill’s address to Congress in December 1941. David Frum, writing in the Atlantic, asserted that Zelensky recalled us to ourselves and our democratic values. Frum added that the Ukrainian president “came to the United States to thank us for supporting Ukraine. It is Americans who should thank him.” An earlier New York Times column by Bret Stephens contended that Americans “admire Zelensky because he has restored the idea of the free world to its proper place.”

Such fawning ignores the mounting evidence of Zelensky’s flagrant abridgment of civil liberties and democratic norms. The blind attitude of Americans is reminiscent of the sanitized treatment given to an earlier bogus champion of democracy, Angolan rebel leader Jonas Savimbi. Between the mid-1970s and the early 1990s (especially during Ronald Reagan’s administration), numerous political and media figures in the United States pushed for greater support for Savimbi’s National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA) and its insurgency against Angola’s leftist government. They also were willing to overlook their “democratic” client’s massive flaws. 

The enthusiasm of American movement conservatives”for Savimbi was especially pronounced. Prominent supporters included such organizations as the Heritage Foundation, Freedom House, the American Conservative Union, the Young Americans for Freedom, and the American Security Council. Various publications, including Human Events, National Review, American Spectator, and the Wall Street Journal amplified the pro-Savimbi case. Savimbi’s backers arranged a major speaking tour for the Angolan leader in 1979 and facilitated his meetings in Washington with congressional leaders and administration officials in 1981, 1986, and 1989.

Their admiration for Savimbi remained intact, even though there were troubling indications early on of UNITA’s harsh, autocratic internal practices. Johns Hopkins University Professor Piero Gleijeses observes that despite such disagreeable details, Savimbi’s American allies “seized the high ground; they argued in terms of both U.S. interests and morality.” The ongoing campaign for enhanced U.S. support for Zelensky exhibits the same features.

Presenting Savimbi with an award from the American Conservative Union and the Young Americans for Freedom, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Jeane Kirkpatrick lauded him as “one of the few authentic heroes of our time.” Kirkpatrick’s idealized portrait of Savimbi was typical of the right-wing perspective in the United States. President Ronlad Reagan shared that view, at one point succinctly describing Savimbi in a diary entry as “a good man.” 

Sen. Orrin Hatch at the time said that “I have had the privilege of meeting Mr. Savimbi and have been extremely impressed by his honesty, integrity, religious commitment.” The conflict in Angola was not a civil war, the Utah senator insisted. “It is a battle over ideologies: Soviet totalitarianism vs. freedom, self-determination, and democracy.” U.S. aid to Savimbi would “send a strong signal to the world that we are determined to help freedom fighters resist Communist hegemony.” If one substitutes “authoritarianism” for “Soviet totalitarianism,” and “Russian aggression” for “Communist hegemony,” today’s dominant and thoroughly simplistic message about needing to support Zelensky and his cause is virtually the same.

The enthusiasm for UNITA and its leader became increasingly strident and uncritical. In retrospect, one of the more embarrassing episodes in the campaign to lionize Savimbi was the appearance in 1986 in the Wall Street Journal of an op-ed under his byline, but with major portions apparently written by a ghost writer. It hailed the virtues of capitalism and democracy and pledged to make Angola a model of both values if the United States helped UNITA oust the pro-Communist government in Luanda. In a 1989 lecture to the Heritage Foundation, Savimbi was selling the same message.

Savimbi’s article and subsequent lecture told American proponents of democracy (especially conservatives) exactly what they wanted to hear. UNITA’s ultimate goal, he insisted, was not just to overthrow the pro-Communist regime and its Cuban military backers, but to build a new, democratic country. Nor was that all. “In addition to UNITA’s commitment to a democratic, multiparty Angola with religious tolerance and freedom of speech, it is vital that we recognize the importance of economic liberties,” Savimbi insisted. National Review gushed about his “astonishing defense of freedom.”

What is so striking about the success of the pro-Savimbi camp’s propaganda was that UNITA did not practice any of those political or economic principles in the portion of Angola that it controlled. There was certainly no evidence of democracy, multiparty or otherwise; UNITA maintained a ruthless monopoly of power. Abuses included war crimes against civilians and the systematic imprisoning or killing of political opponents or potential leadership competitors. The latter category eventually included some of his closest associates, such as Tito Chingunji and Wilson dos Santos. Even some of Savimbi’s American supporters grudgingly had to admit that UNITA resorted to torture and coercive “re-education” measures.

Zelensky Damages Ukraine’s Democracy:  

Likewise, the Ukraine government’s repression is becoming increasingly flagrant and alarming. Since the Russian invasion, Zelensky has used the war as a justification for outlawing 11 opposition parties. He also invoked martial law to issue a presidential decree that combined all national television stations into one platform. On Dec. 29, 2022, Zelensky signed a new law that his party had pushed through parliament — a measure that further curbed an independent press. Other presidential actions sought to ban the Russian Orthodox Church and imposed severe sanctions on its top clerics. A growing number of people are being jailed without due process. 

Zelensky and his closest colleagues have no tolerance for even the most peaceful opponents, domestic or foreign. In the summer of 2022, the Ukraine government’s Center for Countering Disinformation published a blacklist of critics that included numerous prominent Americans. The implicitly threatening nature of that list became even more evident in late September, when the CCD issued a revised roster (including addresses) of the top 35 targets and smeared those individuals as “disinformation terrorists” and “war criminals.” 

One key difference between the misguided support for Savimbi and the equally misguided support for Zelensky is that the earlier episode was heavily partisan in nature. Conservatives were much more inclined to back the Angolan conman; liberals ranged from tepidly favorable to overtly hostile. Unfortunately, the portrayal of Zelensky as a champion of democracy and freedom is depressingly bipartisan. His American admirers simply refuse to acknowledge their client’s alarming ideological and behavioral warts. In retrospect, that allegiance may prove to be as embarrassing to Zelensky’s fans as it ultimately did to Savimbi’s advocates.

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Author Expertise and Experience:

Ted Galen Carpenter, a senior fellow in defense and foreign policy studies at the Cato Institute and a contributing editor to 19FortyFive, is the author of 13 books and more than 1,100 articles on international affairs. His latest book is Unreliable Watchdog: The News Media and U.S. Foreign Policy (2022).

Written By

Ted Galen Carpenter, a senior fellow in security studies at the Cato Institute, is the author of 12 books and more than 900 articles on international affairs.  His books include (with Doug Bandow) The Korean Conundrum: America’s Troubled Relations with North and South Korea (Palgrave-Macmillan, 2004).



  1. Harmen Breedeveld

    February 6, 2023 at 3:54 pm

    I am not sure about the author’s argument. It just lacks in the depth required to really weigh his arguments.

    Take his example of the Ukrainian government banning the Russian orthodox church.

    I know that the Russian orthodox church explicitly supports Putin’s invasion. I also understand that some Russian orthodox churches in Ukraine were accused of aiding the Russian war effort.

    I do not know enough about the details here to make a definitive judgment on whether it was justified to ban the Russian orthodox church.

    But, I suspect, neither does Mr Carpenter.

    Details matter. And in the case of the Russian orthodox church in Ukraine, as with the other examples Mr Carpenter provides, I find the lack of detail a great weakness in his argument.

    I hope Mr Carpenter will next time write a more focused, better argued, more in-depth piece.

  2. YS

    February 6, 2023 at 4:14 pm

    Savimbi, Guaido, Lenin, Zelensky… potato potato, tomato tomato

    in all cases representing politically energized minority willing to use all means to reach goals of their sponsors, not willing to consider any laws, will or well-being of their people.

    what did you expect?

    “assume nothing question everything”

  3. 404NotFound

    February 6, 2023 at 4:18 pm

    Zelenskiyy is a certified neo-nazi warmonger, one that very closely resembles turk leader tayyip erdogan.

    What did the great neo-nazi zelenskiyy say in April 2021. Bet few, if any, can now recall what he said, erdogan-style.

    “If Ukraine is left out of NATO membership, we will have to develop our own nuclear weapons to safeguard our security.”

  4. Jim

    February 6, 2023 at 5:27 pm

    President Zelensky is not a neo-Nazi of the Stephan Bendera stripe.

    Zelensky was a low-brow comedic actor, some would say, a crass comedian… going for the cheapest laughs.

    I don’t think Zelensky knew how bad things were until he had been in office for a while … he ran on a peace platform … but, the story goes, he went to the Donbas to confirm a directive he had previously given to knock off the “terror bombing” of the Donbas. When he got there, the soldiers blew him off.

    After that, it seems he realized he had to get with the program of war against the Donbas or he would have no power.

    But now there are no excuses… the author points out his failures regarding democracy.

    Breedeveld questions the assertion of oppression against the church, but never mentions the oppression against a free press & opposition political parties.

    President Diem of South Vietnam came to Washington D. C. and got the same lauding treatment and an address to Congress… several years later there was a coup and Diem was assassinated.

    President Zelensky has been lauded, but should the war continue in a bad direction … who knows.

    People who bet on Zelsensky or the neo-Nazi power clique in Kiev made a bad bet.

    I have zero tolerance of neo-Nazi… my dad piloted B-24 bombers over Germany to drop bombs to rid Nazis from the European Continent… he didn’t do that for the U. S. government turn around and support neo-Nazis in 21st Century Europe… period… you people who ignore our history and the reality in Ukraine are… I’m disgusted with my fellow Americans… you should be ashamed.

    Whatever Zelensky is, he represents a brutal, murderous ideology of “kill Russians” or any other group or individual who stands in the way of their vision of Ukraine nationalism… when Poreshenko became president, the Rada, their parliament, banned the Russian language… a language that roughly half of Ukrainians speak as a first language.

    As compromise, offer survival to the Kiev regime… but justice & history dictate the Kiev regime be removed and the blot of neo-Nazism be forever eliminated from the European Continent.

    You guy bet on the wrong man and the wrong ideology.

    Warmongers are stupid no matter how high their I. Q.

  5. Walker

    February 6, 2023 at 5:42 pm

    Umm, Ukraine is at war. It is being attacked. That means that a lot of freedoms get taken away. It’s called martial law. Duh!!!

    Let’s take your stupid point about religion. Did he block Judaism? Islam? No just the Russian Orthodox Church. The same Russian Orthodox Church that declared Ukraine not a country. The same church that told Russian soldiers to kill Ukrainians. The same church that helps Russian soldiers in Ukraine. So yes it makes sense that Ukraine would outlaw that. That law protects Ukrainian citizens.

    Even his laws on the press make sense. It is important that during war the country controls what information is released so that the enemy doesn’t get vital information it can use against the country.

    And the political parties that were banned “pro-Russian” political parties. So it makes sense as well.

    Imagine Ukraine cancelling elections! Oh the horror. They just might do that. And they would have good reason. How can you have a free election during war? So if they do this, I know a lot of you will go crazy, but be prepared, if the war drags on, this is a very likely possibility. And it won’t bother me at all.

    So leave Zelenskyy alone. Let’s get Ukraine free of Russia and get the war ended. Then see. If Zelenskyy doesn’t open up the freedoms, then we pull support for Ukraine. Simple. Until then, open your mouth and show everyone you are an idiot.

    Do we have to worry about Zelenskyy becoming a dictator? When one person gets too much power, sure that becomes a fear. But instead of looking at the laws they create and the limits to freedom, look at how the power is spread. The more power that gets moved to the hands of the President, the higher the risk. So far, Ukraine’s parliament still has to pass all laws. So it’s working fine.

  6. Matt

    February 6, 2023 at 5:42 pm

    This author is an idiot. Lincoln did all this as well and you can say the Confederacy hardly invaded the Union at all. As long as he is not lining up his enemies and shooting them there are always allowances for running state at war for its very existence

  7. Jim

    February 6, 2023 at 8:02 pm

    Walker, sure, war can bring restrictions, it did, here, during World War One.

    Although, it was much criticized and had a bearing on why Americans were overwhelmingly against getting into WWII before Pearl Harbor.

    But.. big but, the restrictions on the press began well before the war started… and, it’s not clear all the political parties banned… were in favor of Russia… the evidence suggests at least some of the bans were simply because the party opposed Zelensky… or opposed the war… Do citizens have a right to oppose a war and want peace, instead?

    An example, For Life party publicly denounced Russia’s invasion of the country and called for negotiations to quickly end the war.

    Your statement is false. The For Life party was not pro-Russian as you claim, but actually pro-peace… but that was enough in neo-Nazi Ukraine to get banned.

    Doesn’t that sentiment get a hearing in your version of democracy? We did have elections during the Civil War and World War Two… you ignore our own history.

    You ignore our history because you have disdain for our history… warmongers give lip service to democracy… but when push comes to shove… they hate anything that comes between them and the war they love.

    And, McClellan, who ran against Lincoln in 1864 wanted a peace deal… he lost, but we still had elections and the Democratic Party was not banned… even though many if not most Democrats were against the war.

    Matt, regarding Lincoln, it was always a last resort… not a first impulse… as it seems to be in Ukraine with Zelensky and the Banderite neo-Nazis.

    We wouldn’t have any democracy at all if people like you had power… you seemingly are more a warmonger and faux democrat… than a proud American, who believes in our Republic… your comments suggest you want an empire to rule the world.

    Forever war is walker’s name.

    Walker, you betray American principles… pick up your gun and go to Ukraine… if you feel that strong about it… which apparently, you do.

  8. Rick

    February 6, 2023 at 8:09 pm

    How many others would lead their country in facing Russia without wavering?
    Had he gone weak in the knees Ukraine would have failed, but when asked if he would like a ride he responded with: “I don’t need a ride, I need weapons”.

    Zelensky turned out to be a brave leader setting an example for the whole country and the results speak to his actions.

  9. GhostTomahawk

    February 6, 2023 at 8:13 pm

    Zelensky is a puppet fraud put in place to extract money from western powers. The western leaders are collecting part of that money on the back end.

  10. The Al U Know

    February 6, 2023 at 10:51 pm

    ‘Umm, Ukraine is at war. It is being attacked. That means that a lot of freedoms get taken away. It’s called martial law. Duh!!!’

    So, what you are saying:
    ‘I’m fighting for freedom but I’ll take yours away.’

    Also, war necessarily means freedoms get taken away?!?!
    This is effective rallying cry for the people to rally around you?!?!

    Never happened from 9/11, Iraq-Afghanistan Wars(yes USA took them away from the ‘burqa wearing backward peoples’), Yugoslav Wars.
    Martial law is law oriented towards war. If the democratic, free-market laws of Ukraine were so good, why would they ditch them and move closer to the Russian ones they claim to be fighting against??

    The Russian Orthodox Church has been in those lands for about 1000 years more than the Kiev state’s less than a century of existence.
    A church takes in all who seek its refuge, friend or foe. Compassion and forgiveness are pillars of many faiths. This faith just has the prefix ‘Russian’ in front of it. These places are so secretive that only the few old and geriatric bending the knees warrant such overreach by the Zelensky regime. I must not be seeing such cunning spies. Perhaps I must look to the sky….Hmmn, Spy Balloon, are you there???

    And those lands are small. South and East, Russian is the language and background. And since 2014 the AFU has been pounding them with artillery because one part of the country violently took out supporters of the Ukrainian leadership. ‘It’s alright though, your ancestors starved my people to death in the 30s. It is only fair to return the favor.’

    To the West is Polish land, Austrian. Historically. Wedged in the middle of these two are the also Slav-originating Ukrainians. Even so, Couldn’t any Ukrainian regime post-Soviet meltdown have taken a more mild and tolerant attitude to its ethnic minorities. Seeing as how they are all the same people. Look at Canada, a Quebec nation within a multi-cultural, post-national State. So many differing people. If Ukraine beat its Slav brethren long enough other Slav brethren like Russia will take notice.

    “The more power that gets moved to the hands of the President, the higher the risk.”

    And the risk with Zelensky is great!!!!

    For example:
    -Prison swap this last week. At least 60 AFU soldiers returned, flashing Azov flags. Ok, so long as you are saying but not doing anything.
    ‘As long as he is not lining up his enemies and shooting them’.
    He is though. He is.

    -The AFU takes its doubting soldiers and shoots them in the forest, as though they are ashamed to say ‘soldier you have fear- you die. You fail to fight- you die.’ in the honestly of the open.
    -It takes its doubting civilians and wraps them tortuously to lamp posts.

    -To the Russian soldiers, ‘if one resists anxiously- you all die’
    Everyone of a series of prisoners died.
    -The intolerance is not restricted to Azov. Upon the initial invasion if you were Black or of other minority you were treated harshly.

    Zelensky’s regime is only 2 ranks less corrupt than Russia and it didn’t need Russia to invade it to get it there.
    -The West sent it vehicles. The vehicles are already assembled but Ukrainian supports take out the guns and charge 3X more to put other guns in. The middlemen.
    -Infrastructure head gets sacked for stashing $400K. Lucky it was such an amount, but unlucky for him Zelensky is on the case. 4 years a little late. He either tolerated it, or was oblivious to it. Corrupt or a fool, but seeing how his wife spends $40K on trinkets I feel it is the former.
    The bigwigs at the top.
    -Luckily labour actions are curtailed. That will save some whiny plebs from believing in the nation. And save some money here, and
    – get it from the common AFU soldiers, who are forced to attain food at 3x the amount civilians got it at.
    The lowly peasants at the bottom. So much for them.

    The Ukrainian government is a insatiable beast thus far. As expensive as those HIMARS and Leopard 2 tanks are they pale in comparison to the bureaucracy that is going to eat up $28B of that $47B aid package the US sent them around Christmas. Isn’t 50% of the country destroyed? Like how useful are overpaid bureaucrats going to be in rebuilding? While the war is going on???
    This is premature dreaming.
    The reality is that this will go on for quite a bit, until Ukraine is like Syria. Or, Russia loses. But I am no dreamer. The facts on the ground say this place rots.
    Who’s in charge of this place???
    Oh, that right. Vladimir Zelensky.

    -From The Al U Know

  11. David Chang

    February 6, 2023 at 11:17 pm

    God bless people in the world.

    Zelensky does not obey Ten Commandments. He practice atheism and socialism, which is the same sin as Ukraine Church and Russia Church. Therefore, both of Ukraine church and Russia church should not worship their president, but should ask Zelensky and Putin to obey Ten Commandments and reject socialism policies.

    His constitution thought is the same as Marx, Hitler, Trotsky, Lenin, and Stalin, so he enforce his personal will with soldier and his law, and restricts specific people who oppose him. This is the same sin as Hitler, Lenin, Stalin, and Mao. Even though Zelensky and Putin accuse each other of being fascist, and fascism is Communist Party’s word, but fascism is national socialism, like Communist Party and Nazis, they are all atheism parties, they all don’t obey Ten Commandments.

    In Civil War, Lincoln interned suspected spy, but he still believe Ten Commandments is moral truth and the politics regulation.

    While people who agree with Putin violate Ten Commandments, Zelensky has no reason, legal right or power to arrest these people. Because people who agree with Putin should confess their sin and repent to God, not to Zelensky or to people.

    Moreover, Zelensky is like Biden, they prohibits people from owning firearms, and encourages abortion. Ukraine Servant of the People is the same as U.S. Democratic Party, both of them don’t obey Ten Commandments.

    But after Poland quit from USSR, many people try to abolish atheism in Poland, so they ask the Poland Supreme Court judges who believe socialism to retire. Therefore, if people in Ukraine would like to get foreign aid, prevent Ukraine officers from taking bribes, and against Russia, they shall vote for the president who obey Ten Commandments and make Ukraine to be under God.

    God bless America.

  12. Serge

    February 6, 2023 at 11:21 pm

    How much did you get paid for this provocative article???
    Could you go to Ukraine and see all the horrific crimes of Russian enemies???
    Do you really think that torturing thousands of people, raping kids and their parents, shelling schools and hospitals, and destroying everything to the ground it is Zelenssky’s fault??? Do you realize it is a horrific war? It is the Genocide of the Ukrainian Nation!

  13. from Russia with love

    February 7, 2023 at 5:37 am

    somewhere I’ve heard it before … oh yes, Franklin Roosevelt – “Somoza may be a son of a bitch, but this is our son of a bitch.” Do you know who Samosa is? Have you heard anything about death squads? read. in short, you declare that you are ready to turn a blind eye to any crimes of the dictator if this dictator is an American puppet.
    “Let’s take your stupid point about religion. Did he block Judaism? Islam? No just the Russian Orthodox Church. The same Russian Orthodox Church that declared Ukraine not a country. The same church that told Russian soldiers to kill Ukrainians. The same church that helps Russian soldiers in Ukraine. So yes it makes sense that Ukraine would outlaw that. That law protects Ukrainian citizens.”
    olo!! boy, here you go! is there anyone in the head!? it all started BEFORE the “invasion”. persecution of the Russian Orthodox Church began in 2016-2017. a ban on the use of the Russian language, which is spoken by 90% of the population of Ukraine UNTIL February 24. bans on the activities of opposition parties until 24 February. Closure of opposition media UNTIL 24 February. recognition of neo-Nazis as heroes of Ukraine and direct financing of Nazi organizations from the state budget began BEFORE February 24th. what “martial law” are you lying about? the whole difference is that until February 24, such actions were carried out quietly and opposition leaders simply disappeared, but after February 24, everyone who is ready to at least negotiate with Russia is killed publicly and with comments in the media about “what good fellows we are here and killed another maskal.”
    By the way, an interesting fact, look at Zelensky’s pre-election campaign. his entire election campaign is in Russian. an amazing coincidence, until 2020, Zelensky did not speak Ukrainian. he promised to stop hostilities in the Donbass, and for this, many voted for him. look what he actually did.
    “Let’s get Ukraine free of Russia and get the war ended.”
    so far it’s more like “let’s kill more Ukrainians”. 🙂 Walker, are you going to save Zelensky’s junta when the Ukrainians run out?

  14. Commentar

    February 7, 2023 at 7:26 am

    Ukraine today is the Numero uno wellspring of democracy.Fascismo democracy that is.

    In 2018, one of the US-backed architects of the dirty Feb 2014 putsch, Andriy Parubiy, publicly insinuated that Adolf Hitler was the torchbearer of democracy in Europe.

    What Parubiy meant was street democracy or street violence or color revolution funded by USA & its associated organizations ‘directly fighting for democracy’ like the famed NED around the world.

    “I’m a major supporter of direct democracy.By the way, the biggest man who practised direct democracy was Adolf Hitler.” – Parubiy, Sept 4 2018.

  15. Harmen Breedeveld

    February 7, 2023 at 8:13 am

    So Jim, you claim you are in favor of free speech, freedom and against invasion.

    So, how do you see Russia and Russia’s seemingly eternal President Putin? How do you see him banning opposition parties and controlling the media? How do you see his extreme wealth – like his opulent palace in the South of the country?

    I mean, if you criticize Ukraine, man, you must hate, hate, hate Putin’s government. And you must vehemently oppose his deadly, bloody invasion of another country, which borders it had recognized as recently as 1994.

    I am looking forward to reading your fiery denunciations of Vladimir Putin and of Russian authoritarianism, political murders, suppression of independent media and brutal invasion of Ukraine.

    Though somehow I suspect that you may choose to avoid that subject. Maybe because you know who pays your rent? 😉

    PS I laughed to read you mention Bandera, a figure almost wholly unknown in the west, but a staple of Russian propaganda, while you failed to mention US suppression of Japanese Americans’ rights in World War II, something that almost all Americans know about.

    Funny, that 😉

  16. Walker

    February 7, 2023 at 8:49 am

    Wow, All the Russians saying my name, further proof I got it right.

  17. Longo

    February 7, 2023 at 8:55 am

    The Ruski lobby is alive and well at the Cato Institute. Shame!

  18. The Al U Know

    February 7, 2023 at 10:34 am

    No Walker.

    Just twisted logic and easy pickings.

    If you were right you would have stuck to your argument. Getting responses is like getting clicks and does not represent the validity or voracity of an argument. Porn for the plebian.

    And wrong yet again, on yet another level. The eyes do not deceive.
    I am Canadian. Of that I am sure.
    I am pretty sure Ted Galen Carpenter is as conservative as Texas, and his history shows he has backed American military ‘democratization’ since 20 years prior.

    Pfft. Doing something right. And pigs fly lol.

    Pfft. Every examiner of the folly that is Vladimir Zelensky is a Russian bot.

    “So, how do you see Russia and Russia’s seemingly eternal President Putin?”

    @Harem, you know this piece is an examination of Vlodomir Zelensky, and his viability as a leader for leading a so-called democratic nation that is as rotten as its Russian neighbour.

    Yes I said it. Russia is rotten, an emaciated former brute longing for its glory days. Violent and repressive too. Like America, just ask those who were at Abu Ghraib. If these nations had a collective psyche each one would be a mess.

    But what, you want me to chant anti-Putinism like the catechism???

    So pipe down and make your own submission to 1945. I’ll find you chained there, and free you from those narrow confines, no rental fee needed.

    From the Al U Know

  19. Bertram

    February 7, 2023 at 11:00 am

    The niceties of Roberts Rules of Order don’t always apply when Russians are sending missiles into hospitals and apartment buildings and it is naive to expect they should.

    Zelensky is doing what he should. Defending Ukraine against invaders and protecting Ukrainians, and for that he is a hero the free people of the world can support.

    Russia delenda est.

  20. Serhio

    February 7, 2023 at 11:16 am

    “Umm, Ukraine is at war. It is being attacked. That means that a lot of freedoms get taken away. It’s called martial law. Duh!!!”

    You may be surprised, but no, Ukraine is not at war. Martial law has not been officially introduced in Ukraine. Ukraine is not officially at war with Russia. Russia has not declared war on Ukraine. Ukraine also did not declare war on Russia. There is a “special military operation” in Ukraine, as Putin said and Zelensky agrees with him. Otherwise, Ukraine would have declared war on Russia long ago. If you do not agree with me, try to name the date of the declaration of war by Ukraine.

  21. Jim

    February 7, 2023 at 12:10 pm

    Breedeveld, regarding Putin, whether you like it or not, he’s been elected.

    (Oh, I know you’ll howl at that one, but what you’re actually saying is “our democracy is good, your democracy is fake.” This is the double standard which western corporate media has been peddling for years… not just Russia, but any nation-state’s elected leaders which run afoul of the U. S. foreign policy apparatus. Biden has his own issues in this regard.)

    You’re right, I didn’t want this invasion at all because I knew an “ill wind would blow” and a new Cold War would descend on Europe and have ripple effects across the rest of the world.

    Indeed, it has.

    Since 2014, Ukraine has been “terror bombing” the Donbas via random shelling which was deemed successful as long as civilians died. Over 10,000 killed (murdered) over the course of eight years before the invasion.

    The “Right to Protect,” you remember that doctrine, which the U. S. used to justify bombing Libya and Kosovo?

    I’m an American who opposes this gambit to take down Russia and enforce hegemony around the globe… I’m sick & tired of neocons screwing over America, then claiming to be doing good deeds.

    Typical of a neocon, Stephan Bandera is a hero to the Kiev regime… just this past January the Rada, Ukraine’s parliament, sent out a tweet to all the world celebrating Bandera’s birthday, Jan. 1st, then deleted it upon complaint from Poland’s government.

    Not a surprise the western corporate media doesn’t mention Bandera… if the western public knew of his atrocities and murderous ideology, there never would have been general support for the Kiev regime.

    Just because the western public doesn’t know about something doesn’t make it go away or that it never happened.

    Neocons live via a pliant media who echo neocon talking points.

    I wonder… many Ukraine supporters project their rancid ideas onto their opponents.

    Look in the mirror and that is where you will likely find your answers.

  22. mawendt

    February 7, 2023 at 12:27 pm

    This article had no depth, and had a feel that it was ripped out on a computer during lunch break.

    I look forward to Ted Carpenter’s equally ‘in depth’ commentary on Putin. Maybe compare Ukraine to Russia.

    And although Zelensky is no Churchill… plenty of modern day Neville Chamberlain’s have been identified. I thought history taught us where that leads.

  23. from Russia with love

    February 7, 2023 at 1:27 pm

    @Harmen Breedeveld
    I, as you probably guessed, Russian. ???? I want to ask you about this:
    “I laughed to read you mention Bandera, a figure almost wholly unknown in the west, but a staple of Russian propaganda”
    Bandera is a Ukrainian Nazi who collaborated with the Nazis and was directly involved in the massacres during the occupation of Ukraine by German troops during the Second World War. this is a historical fact that is in all encyclopedias. in addition, Bandera and the same moral monster Shukhevych have recently been recognized as heroes of Ukraine. Ukraine, not Russia. but you write something about Russian propaganda. that is, Bandera, a generally recognized neo-Nazi, a war criminal, a hero of Ukraine, but Russian propaganda? I have a question – are you all right with mental activity and logic?
    and what does the Japanese have to do with it? ???? Jim mentioned Bandera in association with Zelensky. how is the repression of Asians (not just Japanese) in the USA related to this? USA 1942 mixed with Ukraine 2022? Do you have some kind of your personal fictional world in your head that no one knows about?????

  24. G

    February 7, 2023 at 1:29 pm

    Ukraine is at war, sure some liberal policies are revoked to keep order in the country. show me what country did not do that? It’s too early to judge Zelensky on his actions. There is very little democracy can exist during the fight. It’s either you or them. I think Zelensky is doing all he can to keep his people free. The alternatives are dire.

  25. thierry bruno

    February 7, 2023 at 2:05 pm

    Zelensky was elected on the promise of peace in the Donbass. As soon as he was elected, out of fear or conviction, he placed himself under the protection of the neo-Nazis who were massacring the populations of Donbass. And, in the interest and with the help of the United States, he did everything to provoke war with Russia.
    In addition, Ukraine has sunk since 2014 into corruption. Always in agreement with the USA, whether it is Hunter Biden for example or the sale of millions of hectares of fertile land to large American groups. It is true that corruption does not bother Washington much. The Pentagon is unable to explain what happened to 69% of its assets without anyone being moved.
    Zelensky is a neo-Nazi scoundrel, but in the words of F.D. Roosevelt, “he’s our son of a bitch”.

  26. Christophe

    February 7, 2023 at 3:20 pm

    The Cato Institute, a surprising spreader of Russian propaganda.
    This article is particularly nasty and vain. The pity is that Ted Galen Carpenter certainly wrote this empty piece for free, while some get paid by Moscow.

  27. Walker

    February 7, 2023 at 6:52 pm

    You Russians are a real hoot! And for those of you who I’ve mistakenly called Russian and aren’t, consider yourselves honorary Russians. Why you protest the truth, I don’t know. Just own up to it.

    Even Putin has now admitted that it is war. You can stop with the charades. Ukraine killed 1000 Russians yesterday. If that isn’t war, nothing is. Official declaration of war? Lol. Reality is what is important.

    The reality is Russia is attacking Ukraine and Ukraine is defending itself. This requires the people to deal with the situation as it is. It requires the government to deal with the situation as it is. Why does anyone think that pro-Russian political parties should be allowed in Ukraine? Why should Ukraine be forced to treat the Russian language as special? There are no laws banning the use of the language, but I can easily understand how the people would find its use there as unpatriotic.

    There are no flaws in my logic. It is about survival. And once the war ends, then we can worry about personal liberties. Right now we have innocent people struggling to survive aggressive attacks by an evil country and an evil dictator. So all you evil Russians can go sit on a grenade for all I care.

  28. Steve

    February 7, 2023 at 7:23 pm

    Now do Putin.

  29. David Chang

    February 7, 2023 at 11:26 pm

    God bless people in the world.

    Walker should not agree with democratic party who incite socialism warfare and provoke Russia but refuse to bear responsibility for inflation.

    Rick should not forget that Ukraine people quit USSR, but, they do not obey Ten Commandments and keep to implement socialism policy, so they are the same as people in Russia and one-China. And Zelenskyy extort other countries to help him win the election, but U.S. Republican Party neglect their duty, Republican do not suspect the finance of Ukraine government, and let Zelensky consume the taxes paid by people in America, so the sin of Zelensky is like SPD, Nazis and Communist Party, extorting American property with socialism warfare.

    Bertram should remember the sin of Democratic party and German SPD. They want to destroy people in Russia, but don’t obey Ten Commandments.

    Moreover, the sin of democratic party is inciting socialism warfare and make us to run out of currency, weapon, ammunition, fuels, and the rehabilitation of soldier. Democratic party and German SPD make Communist Party believe that they will win the socialism warfare initiated by Karl Marx.

    And people in UK are also wrong, most of them don’t obey Ten Commandments, they fear WMD war, but they cut defense budgets, so they are helping communist party to win socialism warfare.

    God bless America.

  30. Serhio

    February 8, 2023 at 12:23 am

    “There are no laws bending the use of the language, but I can easily understand how the people would find its use there as unpatriotic.”

    Your ignorance is shocking. You don’t know the basics, but you enter into an argument with a sense of superiority. After reading a couple of newspapers and listening to a couple of TV shows, do you think you are an expert in the most difficult question? It’s bad that you don’t know the basics, but it’s even worse that you don’t even try to learn anything.
    I did the work for you on your training: find in Google “Law of Ukraine No. 2704-VIII of April 25, 2019 On ensuring the functioning of the Ukrainian language as the state language” and use an online translator.
    Search Google for “Hungary protests against the oppression of the Hungarian language in Ukraine” and use an online translator.
    Maybe then you will understand that in Ukraine it is forbidden to teach in schools in any language other than Ukrainian. In Ukraine, communication in stores in any language other than Ukrainian is prohibited.
    Maybe you even have the sense to understand that such treatment of 50% of the population of your country could not but cause a civil war of those who want to speak the language of their ancestors with those who forcibly force others to learn a foreign language for themselves. And after the Ukrainian Nazis began to kill for using the Russian language, the civil war became inevitable.

  31. Serhio

    February 8, 2023 at 12:28 am

    “The reality is Russia is attacking Ukraine and Ukraine is defending itself. This requires the people to deal with the situation as it is. It requires the government to deal with the situation as it is. ”

    No one disputes that military operations are actually underway. And can you explain the fact that Ukraine has not officially declared war with Russia?? You won’t argue with the fact that Ukraine has not declared war on Russia for the whole year that has passed?? Perhaps the Ukrainian president forgot about such an unimportant detail while doing more important things?

  32. from Russia with love

    February 8, 2023 at 4:18 am

    “There are no flaws in my logic.”
    there is only one flaw in your logic, but a very significant one. you lie and build your logical chains on lies.
    after the 2014 coup d’etat, they began to impose bans on the use of the Russian language. not in 2022, back in 2014. they also began to ban objectionable parties after 2014. after 2014 they began to ban objectionable media. after 2014, they began to physically destroy those who do not agree with the actions of the Ukrainian junta. By the way, the ban on the Russian language was the main reason for the secession of Crimea and Donbass. but you brazenly lie that this is due to the start of hostilities in 2022. no, this is due to the coup d’état of 2014. By the way, the United States themselves proudly declare that they are directly related to this coup and have invested $ 5 billion in this operation.
    let’s sum it up. The United States brought to power in Ukraine a neo-Nazi, totalitarian junta that has been engaged in terror, theft for 9 years and eventually unleashed a war with Russia.????‍♂️
    but your attempts to mold the statue of “Liberty” out of shit look very nice.????
    an interesting detail, for some reason innocent people are fighting for survival in the territory controlled by the Ukrainian junta. try to explain why in the cities liberated by Russia people do not fight for survival? why do people live a completely peaceful life wherever the Ukrainian artillery does not reach? Why do people live a peaceful life in Militopol? why Mariupol, completely destroyed by the Ukrainian Nazis, is now being restored and living a peaceful life. try to explain why in the liberated Mariupol water supply, electricity supply, new houses were built, public transport was restored, schools and shops are working, but in the cities “liberated” by Ukraine there is the same humanitarian catastrophe, as if they are still on the front line?
    PS PS
    By the way, do you know that Russia has accepted the largest number of refugees from Ukraine? over 2 million. use your “perfect” logic and try to explain why so many Ukrainians went to the country that supposedly attacked them?

  33. William Barrett

    February 8, 2023 at 10:16 am

    With respect, those on the right (I am a 2x Trump voter and proud patriot) who attack Zelensky on these issues are WILFULLY intellectually dishonest.

    No democratic nation, under attack from a stronger, larger neighbor, can afford not to take some actions to limit internal strife and damage.

    Would the UK have allowed publications to endorse pro-Hitler positions in WW2

    Would we?

    When you are fighting for your survival, some things have to bend.

    The issue of the Russian Orthodox Church is a good example of willful dishonesty by some conservative commentators.

    3 years ago, the Orthodox council recognized the Ukrainian Orthodox Church as separate and independent from the Russian Orthodox. Until then The Russian Orthodox Church, which is blatantly corrupt, blatantly russian nationalistic and pro-Putin, had controlled all Orthodox Church property in Ukraine and frequently used it to suck money out of Ukraine.

    All Russian Orthodox property in Ukraine was transferred by law to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.

    Since the war began anew, the Russian Orthodox Church has explicitly endorsed the war, claiming holy justification for Putin’s genocidal war.

    Under those circumstances, banning it was appropriate. It is effectively a propaganda arm of the Russian govt. The Patriarch of the Rus Orth. Church is a fabulously wealthy member of the Moscow elite.

    The measure will be how Ukraine restores democratic norms after the war.

    But never forget.

    Those attacking Zelensky are effectively supporting Putin

    Putin illegally invaded Crimea
    Putin illegally invaded Donbas
    Putin illegally started the current conflict
    Russia is bombing Ukrainian cities, not the other way around
    Russia is kidnapping Ukrainian children, not the other way around
    Russian mercenaries engage in widespread slaughter and barbarity in Syria and Africa

    Is Zelensky perfect? No.

    But the conservative side that opposes Ukraine has lost their minds.

    You are supporting the objectively EVIL Russian government simply because you can’t bring yourself to agree that on this ONE issue, Biden might be (belatedly) getting it right.

    Biden is a senile, corrupt, etc etc.. The globalists helped start this conflict because they assumed, like Putin, it would be over quick, and the issue resolved, and they could get back to buying Russian oil and gas

    But they had to ‘pretend’ to support Ukraine and were then unable to withdraw their support once the Ukrainians proved tougher than anyone else thought.

    Stop supporting the evil, bloodthirsty dictator simply because he doesn’t like rainbow people and you hate Biden.

    Ukraine is by FAR the lesser of 2 weevils.

  34. Roger Joseph Buffington

    February 8, 2023 at 10:47 am

    This article is, from a functional standpoint, Russian propaganda. It starts with vapid platitudes and then tries to imply a connection with President Zelensky with some old dictator from a bygone era who frankly, I never heard of. This is a very poorly written article the quality of which falls far below normal standards for publication.

  35. Andrew M Winter

    February 8, 2023 at 11:17 am

    The underlying argument here is how The West is fawning over Zelensky as some kind of “democracy hero”.

    For me this is one of the most phony arguments in popular culture. This particularly true for America. America is NOT a democracy. It never was. It was never intended to be. The founding fathers had very little good to say about Democracy, and some of the stuff they said shouldn’t be put in print!

    America is a Republic. It is modeled on the Govt of ROME, including the Imperial Era. The President of the United States has almost the same powers as the Emperor of ROME. This was done on purpose.

    That Zelensky isn’t some “great protector and practitioner of democracy” does not mean squat to me.

    We have heaped HUGE praise on Winston Churchill! HE is called a great defender of Democracy even though he was PM of one and nastiest global empires in modern history!!!!!!

    WE, all of us, have a completely false image of “Democracy” that borders on religious fanaticism and bares no resemblance to reality.

  36. David

    February 8, 2023 at 3:51 pm

    Inter arma, silent leges.

    Its true of almost all governments, including democracies.

  37. Serhio

    February 10, 2023 at 2:43 am

    William Barrett
    “All Russian Orthodox property in Ukraine was transferred by law to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.”

    That’s a lie. There is no law transferring the property of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate) to anyone. Property is seized without the law, priests are arrested and thrown into prison if “investigators” find books in Russian (which is native to 50-60% of the population of Ukraine), even those published before 2022.

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