Volodymyr Zelenskyy may be among the least likely wartime leaders the world has known, yet he’s winning praise in the role just when his political fortunes had been dwindling.

A Russian-speaking former television comic of Jewish background, Zelenskyy was elected as Ukraine’s president just under three years ago on a promise to bring peace. On Friday, he was at war in the capital Kyiv, accused by President Vladimir Putin of leading a fascist regime guilty of "genocide” in the east of the country.

Western leaders dismiss those claims as fabrications — "ridiculous,” said German Chancellor Olaf Scholz — but with Russian troops attempting to fight their way into Kyiv, there was little sugar-coating the desperate situation for Zelenskyy and an independent Ukraine. Putin has declared he wants Zelenskyy gone.