Comedian turned president Volodymyr Zelenskyy isn't afraid to be blunt, especially when he's asking for help.
"Those who have the weapons and ammunition we need and are holding back their help must know that the fate of this battle also depends on them. The fate of people who can be saved," he said.
Zelenskyy reportedly refused an ally's suggestion to flee Ukraine when Russia's brutal war started, saying, "I need ammunition, not a ride." He criticized the West for not sending enough weapons, saying countries were afraid of Russia. And he suggested the U.N. Security Council dissolve itself.
"Zelenskyy is being blunt, I think, in part because it's his style. And part of it, I also believe, is tactics," said Charles Kupchan, Former Senior Director for European Affairs on the National Security Council. "He may be deliberately asking for things that he doesn't really believe he's going to get as a way of putting additional pressure on Western governments to step up."
In a matter of weeks, Zelenskyy's pleas, shaming, and cajoling have persuaded nations to donate billions of dollars in military support.
"Today, I'm announcing another $800 million to further augment Ukraine's ability to fight in the East and the Donbas region," President Biden said.
In this latest shipment, howitzers and tactical vehicles to tow them and dozens of Phoenix Ghost drones. That's despite Russia warning the U.S. last week not to make "large-scale transfers of modern weaponry," in a diplomatic letter which Newsy obtained.
Zelenskyy has talked to nations from a bunker, from his office and from the streets of Kyiv — and it has paid off.
"President Zelenskyy has been so effective himself as a leader because he's using images, he's using information as a strategic weapon, really, to help people come to his cause," said Barry Pavel, Former Senior Director for Defense Policy and Strategy on the National Security Council.
The Czech Republic was the first country to fulfill Ukraine's request for heavily armored vehicles, sending old, Soviet-designed tanks. Germany abandoned a practice of denying lethal weapons to a conflict zone, sending anti-tank weapons and surface-to-air Stinger missiles. Slovakia donated its S-300 anti-aircraft system. Just Thursday, Spain said it was sending 200 tonnes of ammunition, armored vehicles and more.
"His background as a comedian is really a part of this," Pavel continued. "I mean, he knows how to act, he knows how to get a reaction. And that's years and years and years. And so that obviously is a very important skill set for being able to get the kind of support from across the world."
Zelenskyy's pleas and the gruesome images of civilians tortured and killed have brought support beyond NATO countries. Australia has given Ukraine 20 Bushmaster armored combat vehicles, some repainted to show the Ukrainian flag. Japan is sending drones and masks and clothing to protect against chemical weapons.
As long as the war continues, the presidential persuasion and pledges keep coming.