The Zelensky Narrative is Shifting | Opinion

Volodymyr Zelensky increasingly reveals his true nature. For months, the Ukrainian president has enjoyed nonstop adulation from the American press and audiences with celebrity glitterati. But now, the reality of his rule in Ukraine is becoming undeniable, even to his most ardent enablers in America, many of whom happen to be Republicans.

In just the last few days, the narrative has palpably shifted. First, Thomas Friedman of the New York Times sent up a trial balloon, a clear signal straight from one of the White House's most dependable stenographers:

Dear reader: The Ukraine war is not over. And privately, U.S. officials are a lot more concerned about Ukraine's leadership than they are letting on. There is deep mistrust between the White House and Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky—considerably more than has been reported.

The Biden administration had previously been as deeply committed to escalation in Ukraine as Senator Lindsey Graham or actor Ben Stiller were, but suddenly even the West Wing is beginning to acknowledge the futility of unreservedly backing Zelensky. Apparently, there are limits, even for the Washington War Machine.

What are those limits regarding Ukraine? Well, for starters, Zelensky rules much like his adversary, the universally denounced Putin, does. Zelensky shut down all opposition media in Ukraine, then banned opposition political parties. He declared that Russia would have to kill every single citizen of Kyiv to get to him, but also found time to pose for a melodramatic Annie Leibovitz portrait spread for American fashion magazine Vogue. Zelensky also fired the Ukrainian equivalent of the U.S. Attorney General and the head of the CIA, on the very same day, perhaps during breaks from his grandiose photo shoot.

Volodymyr Zelensky
This handout picture taken and released by Ukrainian Presidential Press-service shows the President Volodymyr Zelensky taking part in the ceremony of presenting orders and the other state awards to the servicemen and to the members of the families of fallen soldiers in Kyiv on August 7, 2022, on the occasion of the of the Air Force of Ukraine Day. UKRAINIAN PRESIDENTIAL PRESS SERVICE / AFP/Getty Images

Like Friedman, CBS News apparently got the memo to start tarnishing Zelensky's halo. That network explored the folly of sending a mountain of U.S. taxpayer money into one of the most corrupt countries on Earth, though later deleted its tweet on the topic. CBS admitted that vast amounts of American largesse has been pilfered, conceding that "much of the billions of dollars of military aid that the U.S. is sending to Ukraine doesn't make it to the front lines." CBS also quoted an on-the-ground operative who disclosed the reality of America's generosity: "like 30 percent of it reaches its final destination."

So, American taxpayers borrow tens of billions of dollars their country does not have, to send fortunes to the unaccountable leader of a corrupt country, all to escalate a war in which America has no vital national interest. Oh, and during a recession with runaway inflation at home. Gotcha. That reality would be damning enough, but Zelensky just upped the ante, making American escalation even more wrongheaded.

Zelensky just appealed to China in an interview with the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post. He requested direct talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping to help Ukraine in its war efforts and to help "rebuild Ukraine." In a prior phone call with the Chinese dictator, Zelensky offered Ukraine as a "bridge to Europe" for China.

So, perhaps fearing that the Kyiv cabal will soon need a new sugar daddy, Zelensky openly solicits the most dangerous adversary of the United States, the Chinese Communist Party. With this pathetic hat-in-hand appeal to the tyrannical and abusive Beijing politburo, Zelensky firmly forfeits any pretense of standing as an exemplar for human rights, no matter how many Ukraine flags adorn the social media accounts of high-minded wealthy Americans.

Moreover, in reaching out to Beijing, Zelensky appeals for charity from a country that directly funds the war in Ukraine via massive oil purchases from Putin. In this regard, Zelensky unwittingly unveils the insanity of the world's most powerful nations simultaneously funding both sides of the war. For example, as America sends more than $54 billion from our citizens to Ukraine, our supposed allies in NATO have been sending up to $1 billion per day to Putin for Russian energy.

Putin is a thug and Zelensky is a corrupt autocrat. Their battle involves no vital U.S. national interest. Biden's intervention harms America and worsens the plight of the Ukrainian people, who have become pawns in a battle of Black Sea oligarchs. America should insist on dialogue, negotiation, and de-escalation. If the parties refuse, then it's time for an American approach of realism and restraint, because this is simply not our fight, and Zelensky sure as hell is not our fighter.

Steve Cortes is a former adviser to President Trump.

The views expressed in this article are the writer's own.