What to know about Volodymyr Zelensky, Ukraine’s TV president turned wartime leader

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, center, during a visit with Ukrainian forces near Donetsk. (Presidential Press Service/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock)

Just a few years ago, Volodymyr Zelensky was a comedian and actor playing Ukraine’s president on television. Now, he’s a real-life wartime leader directing his country in its fight against a Russian invasion.

Though Zelensky says he has become the Kremlin’s “target No. 1,” he has earned the respect of much of the Ukrainian public by refusing to flee the capital. Instead, he has walked the streets of Kyiv and urged Ukrainians to resist, while crafting a successful communications strategy that has won the hearts and minds of European leaders and voters.

While acknowledging that Moscow has vastly superior forces that it has not yet deployed, Western officials say Zelensky’s leadership has firmed up Ukrainian resolve. Here’s what you need to know about the president.

Who is Olena Zelenska, Ukraine’s first lady and Volodymyr Zelensky’s wife?