Ola Onuch, senior lecturer at the University of Manchester, says the Ukrainian president is one of few world leaders to enjoy a Covid-19 electoral bounce. “For a country with no spare budget, a defunct health system, very limited testing capacity, he has performed remarkably well,” she says. “Our polling shows that a majority of Ukrainians support his decisive and early action on lockdown.”
But the real tests of Mr Zelensky’s leadership are yet to come, Ms Onuch says. Even as Ukraine makes its first tentative moves out of lockdown, millions of its citizens will see themselves falling into the cracks of poverty left by the crisis. Avoiding major calamity will require reform and unified, stable government, something that Zelensky’s chaotic administration has not always provided.
“Zelensky’s office has many competing interests, some of them genuinely reformist and professional, and others more shady,” Ms Onuch says. “He has the devil and the angel on his side and his place in history will depend on who he decides to back.”