Hero

A week ago, most of the world had never heard of Ukraine’s President, Volodymyr Zelenskyy. Today, he’s a profile in courage. The face of the resistance is inspiring millions of people around the world.

In the last week, pleading with Russia before the invasion began, he said:

“We know for sure that we don’t need the war. Not a Cold War, not a hot war. Not a hybrid one. But if we’ll be attacked by the [enemy] troops, if they try to take our country away from us, our freedom, our lives, the lives of our children, we will defend ourselves. Not attack, but defend ourselves. And when you will be attacking us, you will see our faces, not our backs, but our faces.”

When offered the opportunity to evacuate the capital city, he said:

“The fight is here; I need ammunition, not a ride”

His words didn’t just inspire, they led to action. Zelensky dialed into an emergency summit with the leaders of the European Union as they discussed the type of sanctions they would respond with. From The Washington Post:

“But a handful of key leaders, notably including German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, were reluctant to proceed with some of the harshest proposals. Scholz told reporters on the way into the meeting in Brussels that he wanted to focus on implementing sanctions that had already been approved before enacting new ones.

After a perfunctory debate, the presidents and prime ministers quickly approved sanctions on Russian President Vladimir Putin, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and some of Russia’s biggest banks. Talk of barring Russia from the global financial messaging system known as SWIFT, however, stalled amid skepticism on the part of Scholz and the leaders of Austria, Italy and Cyprus, according to officials familiar with the deliberations who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the sensitive negotiations.
Then Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky dialed into the meeting via teleconference with a bracing appeal that left some of the world-weary politicians with watery eyes. In just five minutes, Zelensky — speaking from the battlefield of Kyiv — pleaded with European leaders for an honest assessment of his country’s ambition to join the European Union and for genuine help in its fight with the Russian invaders. Ukraine needed its neighbors to step up with food, ammunition, fuel, sanctions, all of it.

“It was extremely, extremely emotional,” said a European official briefed on the call. “He was essentially saying, ‘Look, we are here dying for European ideals.’” Before ending the video call, Zelensky told the gathering matter-of-factly that it might be the last time they saw him alive, according to a senior European official who was present.

Wow. Hero.

Today we’re talking to Ian Bremmer, President of Eurasia Group, about what’s unfolding in Ukraine. Needless to say, we’re not experts in geopolitics so it will be nice to hear from someone who is. We’ll do our best to synthesize the flood of information that’s come out over the last 72 hours to help make sense of what this might mean for the global economy and your portfolios.

I know this is obvious, but I feel the need to say it anyway; Lives are being lost. Families are being destroyed.  None of us can imagine what it’s like to be an innocent civilian of Ukraine or Russia right now. I’m typing this from the safety of my keyboard. But I’m going to continue to look at what this means for the economy and markets because that’s my job. Along with everyone else, I hope this gets better before it gets worse.

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