In a new book, journalist Simon Shuster revealed President Zelenskyy's life in a bunker during Russia's invasion, as described in excerpts published by The Telegraph. There are many details that surprised readers.
Zelenskyy faced tough conditions during the war's first year, which changed him both positively and negatively. Despite the challenges, there were some ordinary moments in the bunker, with jokes and coffee amid air raid sirens. Zelenskyy had sleepless nights, closely monitoring the country's situation. At any moment, the phone could ring with bad news.
Living conditions were hard, with limited food, and Zelenskyy showed signs of strain. Yet, routines emerged, with a later morning meeting allowing breakfast and hot meals for the staff.
Zelenskyy's team had alcohol despite its ban, and he enjoyed exercising, playing ping-pong, and watching movies, avoiding older Soviet comedies. In such difficult moments, they had to find comfort in something.
Shuster described the changing dynamics in Zelenskyy's interactions, from casual to formal, as the situation evolved. Initially downplaying the invasion's risk, Zelenskyy refused military advice on securing borders. The Ukrainian leader knew that he was in a big problem, and that a lot would depend on his decisions. When you suddenly find yourself in such a situation, it is certainly not easy to keep a calm head and think rationally. Zelenskyy knew how much responsibility rested on him.
When officials fled at the invasion's start, Zelensky declined escape offers, feeling worn out and discouraged. Instead, he sought assurance on Ukraine's potential European Union membership. Zelenskyy has shown his commitment to Ukraine many times so far.
Shuster recalled traveling with Zelenskyy to Kherson after its liberation, despite security worries, showing the president's commitment amid tough times.
During Zelenskyy's first trip to Washington post-invasion, Shuster noticed the president's determined but tired appearance, showing his transition into a war leader amidst ongoing conflict.