Tired but still cracking jokes, Ukraine’s hunted president says “I’m not a hero”
The white metal gates creak open, revealing spruce trees and sandbags. “Welcome to the fortress,” says a presidential aide. Squinting, you can see the snipers: left, right, up and down. The air-defence systems, huge chunks of metal, are easier to spot. When the gates close, a soldier picks up a red vertushka, a secure government phone from the Soviet era, and asks for orders. We’re moved towards a side entrance, then escorted inside through blacked-out corridors and stairways – up, down and deep into the body of the Ukrainian war machine.
It has taken nearly an hour for us to reach the gates of Volodymyr Zelensky’s compound, a journey that would normally last ten minutes. The cobblestone streets of Kyiv are largely free of traffic these days, but the city’s central arteries have been reconfigured to confuse the enemy. The route snakes its way to the grey Soviet monolith past anti-tank obstacles, past men with guns, and increasingly well fortified checkpoints. We change vehicles. The nervy state of readiness in Kyiv is reminiscent of February 2014, when the Russian government’s efforts to keep Ukraine in its grip led to “the revolution of dignity” and the deaths of more than 100 people. Now the capital is on a war footing once again.
—Culled from The Economist
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