I have no words. How do you even begin to describe courage of this magnitude?
Putin must have thought this would be a slam dunk.
For one, Russia holds overwhelming military superiority over Ukraine, a smaller opponent. An opponent, who, like Karna, gave up their crucial protective nuclear armour in good faith in 1994.
Two, they know that no other major power would overtly join Ukraine in their lonely fight, given the terrible Russian nuclear repercussions.
And three, the Russians are past masters in propaganda warfare (Exhibit A: The 2016 US Presidential election).
And yet, the Russians, especially Putin, are overwhelmingly losing the war of narratives.
Not because the West has come up with a compelling counter-narrative to that of Russia's.
But because of a factor Putin severely underestimated before invading a peaceful neighbour:
The resilience and gumption of that neighbour's leader.
Volodymyr Zelenskyy is not a traditional politician. An ex-comic and movie actor, he burst into national politics on an anti-corruption campaign (AAP anyone?) and stunningly won the 2019 presidential election on a whopping three-fourths majority.
Perhaps Putin reckoned that a "soft" ex-movie-star like Zelenskyy would run away with his family at the slightest provocation (much like Afghanistan's ex-President, Ashraf Ghani) leaving the country headless and demoralised.
Well, he clearly reckoned wrong.
Not only did Zelenskyy stay back, he decided to defiantly lead the fight - addressing the country from the streets standing shoulder to shoulder with other leaders. (Fair warning: Some pics of him in military fatigues are old and not from the current war!)
And one area where Zelenskyy has especially shone is in his communication. Clear and direct; yet heartfelt and human.
Zelenskyy understands that the war of narratives is critical - and in a situation when one party is so clearly the aggressor and the other the victim - it is vital for the attacked party to get its story out.
Especially to the ordinary citizens of the attacking country.
And so, Zelenskyy decided to directly address the citizens of Russia, in Russian, and make one final heartfelt plea. For peace. For sanity. For telling his side of the story.
Given Russia's authoritarian leadership, and iron grip over the country, that may not amount to much.
Or it may. We don't know, it's too early to tell and we are in the fog of war.
Irrespective of the outcome of this gruesome invasion, we have been witness to something rare: a true leader who has inspired his citizens - and those of the world - for generations to come.