But Peter Singer, a professor at Arizona State University’s Center on the Future of War, said Mr Fedorov had been “incredibly effective” in calling on companies to rethink their relationship with Russia.
“No celebrity, let alone a nation, has ever been more effective than Ukraine in calling out corporate brands to name and shame them for acting morally,” Singer said. “If there is such a thing as ‘cancel culture’, Ukrainians can claim to have perfected it during the war.”
In the 45-minute Zoom interview, Mr Fedorov, dressed in a loose gray fleece with black zippers, sat in front of a paneled wall. He slept about three to four hours a night, he said, often interrupted every 30 minutes or so by alerts on the iPhone he keeps next to his bed. He said he was worried about his father, who has been in intensive care for a week after a missile hit the house next door.
“I came close to horror,” he said. “The war has come knocking at my door also personally.”
Mr. Fedorov grew up in the small town of Vasylivka in southern Ukraine, near the Dnieper. Before entering politics, he started a digital marketing company called SMMSTUDIO which designed online advertising campaigns.
The work led him to a job in 2018 with Mr. Zelensky, then an actor who was making an unexpected run for the Ukrainian presidency. Mr. Fedorov became the digital director of the campaign, using social media to present Mr. Zelensky as a young symbol of change.
After Mr. Zelensky was elected in 2019, he appointed Mr. Fedorov, then 28, as minister of digital transformation, tasking him with digitizing Ukraine’s social services. Through a government app, people could pay speeding tickets or manage their taxes. Last year, Mr. Fedorov traveled to Silicon Valley to meet with executives, including Tim Cook, Apple’s chief executive.