Zelensky in a turtleneck and cargo pants demonstrates Ukraine’s disobedience | Popgen Tech
Yes, this is his first trip abroad since the beginning of the Russian invasion. And yes, Ukraine defied all odds, holding out for 10 months against an aggressor who expected to seize the capital of his country in a few days.
But the watching world should be aware: the war is far from over.
This was the message of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky when he stepped onto the White House lawn to be met by President Joseph R. Biden and First Lady Jill Biden, and later at a joint press conference with Mr. Biden.
Or rather, that was the message conveyed by the olive green sweatshirt (complete with a Ukrainian trident on the throat), cargo pants and stiff boots that Mr. Zelensky donned before he even said a word.
It is hard to believe that Mr. Zelensky, a president familiar with optics during his career years, decided to casually appear in a militaristic outfit that he made his military uniform, instead of adopting a dark suit and the usual white tie. Home visits (mandatory for most senators and representatives, as well as dignitaries and cabinet members).
Remaining in the character he had played since the start of the war, Mr. Zielenski offered an immediate visual reminder of his purpose to all who watched. Including his people, his fighters, his associates — and, no less important, his enemy in the Kremlin.
Whatever he and Mr. Biden said to each other behind closed doors, Mr. Zelenskiy’s trench regalia could not be ignored — as it had been since he first appeared in an olive green T-shirt in a Kiev bunker after Russia invaded in February. On Wednesday, the impression was only heightened by the contrast between Mr. Biden’s business navy suit, worn with a navy blue tie with a yellow stripe to symbolize Ukraine’s national colors, and Dr. Biden’s sky blue coat.
If Mr. Zelensky had turned to the capital’s mufti, he would have blended in with his surroundings, perhaps believing that a more familiar or reassuring phase of the conflict has begun. That he didn’t was as much a strategic choice as any deployment designed for an image-driven age.
Mr. Zelensky is a wartime leader, and he makes sure everyone has to look at him to get the point.