Truth behind viral pic of Volodymyr Zelenskyy in combat gear that solidified his HERO status

Truth behind viral pic of Volodymyr Zelenskyy in combat gear that solidified his HERO status
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has remained undeterred despite Russian threats (Getty Images/ Ronald Wittek - Pool and Twitter/ @toddsampsonOz)

A photo of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has gone viral on the internet showing him dressed in a bulletproof vest and carrying a combat helmet as he puts up a brave face. However, it has been revealed that the picture is an old one, which was taken nearly a year ago.

The old snap of the 44-year-old Ukrainian leader has been shared widely as Russia launched a widely condemned attack on Ukraine on Friday, February 25. The world is reportedly praising Zelenskyy for his determination to not bow down before Vladimir Putin’s assault. The viral photo was reportedly first shared by Australian television presenter Todd Sampson who compared Zelenskyy’s approach towards a crisis with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s, who went on a holiday to Hawaii amid the 2019 Black Summer bushfires.


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Posting the two leaders' photographs on Twitter, Sampson wrote: “One of these things is not like the other.” But the truth is Zelenskyy’s pic in combat gear was actually taken on April 9, 2021, by an official photographer while he was visiting armed forces near the frontline with Russian-backed separatists in Ukraine's Donbas area.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky speaks to the media during a joint press conference with French President Emmanuel Macron after their meeting on February 08, 2022 in Kyiv, Ukraine. The meeting comes one day after Macron met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow and discussed several proposals in a five-hour long meeting in an effort to find common ground on Ukraine and NATO. (Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images)

However, there is no doubt that in recent days, Zelenskyy has shown more heroism than depicted in the pic. When the US offered its help in evacuating him from Ukraine, he blatantly refused it and said, “The fight is here; I need ammunition, not a ride.” The leader has decided to fight the enemy along with his people and has reportedly been captured a number of times in the midst of action despite knowing that he’s Russia’s "number one target".

Customers pay for groceries at the supermarket on February 28, 2022 in Kyiv, Ukraine. As Russia's large-scale invasion of Ukraine entered its fifth day, the capital was quieter overnight but Russian forces continued to mass outside the city. Ukrainian waged battle to hold other major cities. (Photo by Anastasia Vlasova/Getty Images)

In a television address, Zelenskyy said, “I know that a lot of misinformation and rumors are being spread now. In particular, it is claimed that I have left Kyiv. I remain in the capital, I am staying with my people. My family is not a traitor, but a citizen of Ukraine. According to our information, the enemy marked me as the number one target. My family is the number two goal. They want to destroy Ukraine politically by destroying the Head of State.”

Sophia, an Ukrainian protester hold up signs reading "Putin Murderer, Hands Off Ukraine" during a rally out site of the Embassy of Russian Federation on February 28, 2022 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Protests have erupted around the world in support of Ukraine after Russian forces invaded the country earlier this week. (Photo by Annice Lyn/Getty Images)

It has been said that Putin has hired a team of 400 Russian killers – called the Wagner Group – based in Africa and known for carrying out covert operations across Africa and the Middle East, to find and kill Zelenskyy along with 23 other government figures, which includes Ukrainian prime minister, the entire cabinet, mayor of Kyiv Vitali Klitschko and his brother Wladimir. The Daily Mail reported that “the group are said to be tracking Zelesnkyy and his colleagues via their mobile phones and claim to know where they are at all times. Another source claimed the killers-for-hire have been told to put the brakes on while Putin holds 'peace talks' with Zelenskyy this week.”

About the Wagner Group, General Sir Richard Barrons, a former commander of Joint Forces Command, said, “They are very effective because they are hard to pin down. They can appear from the shadows, do very violent things and then disappear again, without it being obvious who was responsible. They are not directly linked to the Russian government and therefore they are plausibly deniable.”

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