October 1, 2023


Digitally first class

Volodymyr Zelensky on War, Technology, and the Future of Ukraine


At any time considering the fact that Russian forces commenced their all-out invasion in February, Ukraine has been hailed as an exemplar of how to protect from violent tyranny on the 21st-century battlefield. The state spun up an “IT Army” of volunteer hackers to choose down Russian sites, employed the Starlink satellite world-wide-web method to retain communications as its have infrastructure was staying ruined, and introduced a social media blitzkrieg to win assistance from all around the environment.

By distinction, Russia’s leaders, even with obtaining a significantly extra strong common army, have been trapped in the out of date strategic pondering of the former century. They had been seemingly unprepared for the impressive, specific, Turkish-produced Bayraktar TB2 drones that Ukraine has employed to decimate Russian tanks and ships. Russian cybersecurity techniques were being frail far too: Hackers who experienced signed up for the IT Military told me how they have been continually launching dispersed denial of support attacks from Russian internet sites, as perfectly as posting pro-Ukrainian propaganda and news on web sites Russia had not but censored. These hackers weren’t learn cyber warriors with black ops education, but teens and twentysomethings in bedrooms and residing rooms all around the entire world. With Google queries and WikiHow article content, they uncovered the artwork of simple hacking in a several times. With a several months of exercise, they mentioned, they were being able to punch via Russia’s weak defenses and its huge cloak of wartime censorship.

So when I arrived in Ukraine in March, I desired to have an understanding of how know-how was reshaping war. I spoke to soldiers about how the use of drones had upended the balance of ability with Russia. I talked to hackers about their successes and failures. And as the conflict wore on, I began to listen to from Ukrainians about how their practical experience of the war has morphed from an powerful and enthusiastic protection of the country into extended stretches of eerie silence, punctuated by times of joy, concern, or worry with each individual new announcement of a Ukrainian or Russian progress.

At last, in mid Might, I satisfied Volodymyr Zelensky at the presidential palace in Kyiv. The comic-turned-president who has captivated worldwide attention and properly guilted world leaders into rallying powering his region did not look like the assured, charismatic man or woman we’re employed to observing on Television set and social media. He appeared exhausted and haggard, his palms jittery and his eyes sunken. He seemed deeply anxious and uncertain. And however, as he answered my thoughts about the condition of the war, the world’s reaction to it, and the function know-how experienced performed in aiding Ukraine resist the Russian military services machine, his responses turned lyrical, interspersed with a spontaneous smile or a tartly comic retort—a Zelensky trademark.

In this wide-ranging interview, which has been condensed and evenly edited for clarity, Zelensky known as on Major Tech to do more to pull out of Russia, praised Elon Musk’s Starlink, and spelled out why contemporary leaders have to charm to the distracted social media technology. “We just dwell in an additional time, no longer the time of postmen,” he said.

But he acknowledged that the war has taken its toll on Ukrainians and is deeply personal to him. So I requested: Did he have any regrets? Would he have carried out anything at all in another way? He answered, flatly: “I feel this concern should be asked of the Russian president.”

WIRED: A lot of say that you are a competent social media communicator. How do you keep the interest of an viewers recognised for its brief attention span? How do you hold individuals from forgetting about the war?

Zelensky: We are all in a social network. It is no lengthier about whether or not it is great or not most of our life are previously on-line. Men and women research on-line, get information and facts individuals go through, people today use it. This is our environment now. It is divided. The world-wide-web is a fact. It is not a different planet, but rather a modern day actuality. So if you want men and women to perceive you as you are, you will have to use what people use.


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