It is expected that the inauguration of Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky will take place in early June. Last week, Ukrainian experts discussed how Ukrainian-Russian relations will develop during his presidency. Will there be early parliamentary elections in Ukraine? And if not, how Zelensky will build cooperation with the current Verkhovna Rada and the government? What will be the foreign policy of the new President of Ukraine?
At a briefing on the night of the elections, speaking about relations with Russia, Zelensky said that the priority is the need to achieve the return home of Ukrainian prisoners, including those detained in the Kerch Strait twenty-four Ukrainian sailors:
Naturally, for us now the number one task – to return home Ukrainian prisoners, including sailors. I do not know whether I have the right, today I do not have the official status of the President of Ukraine, but I talked with my parents… And it is impossible to react to it calmly, I communicated with mothers of our seamen, and I will do everything to return them. I can’t promise you, but I’ll do anything to get our guys home.
According to experts, Zelensky won the election because the majority of Ukrainians did not vote for the entertainer, and against his rival, the incumbent President, Petro Poroshenko, who has not been able to stop the war in the East of Ukraine, nor significantly improve the lives of citizens. Zelensky received a record in Ukrainian history of more than seventy percent of the vote, increasing the gap from Poroshenko almost three times.”This gap between the high expectations and the real capabilities of the new President, as well as the lack of his experience – in fact, the lack of political experience, given the fact that the team is just being formed, of course, it will be extremely difficult to meet these expectations. So inevitably the decline in the popularity Zelensky,” predicts political analyst Volodymyr Fesenko.
Petro Poroshenko admitted his defeat on April 21, congratulated Zelensky on his victory over the phone and announced his readiness to become the leader of strong opposition. Although the Central Election Commission has not yet announced the official results of the vote, Zelensky is already perceived as the new head of state – he was congratulated by the leaders of many countries.
Putin sets the tone for likely negotiations with Zelensky
One of the main challenges for the new President of Ukraine will be Russia’s interference in Ukrainian politics. On the third day after the victory in the elections of Vladimir Zelensky, April 24, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree that made it easier for residents of the so-called Donetsk and Luhansk “people’s republics” to obtain Russian citizenship. Official Kiev said that the issuance of Russian passports is contrary to Russia’s obligations under the Minsk agreements to resolve the conflict in the Donbass, and called on the West to tighten economic sanctions against Russia. “The Kremlin is deliberately and cynically violating international law… Russia is trying to reset the Minsk agreements and lift sanctions, legitimize its presence in the territory of Donbass,” Petro Poroshenko is sure. And Zelensky’s team called Putin’s decision “a clear confirmation for the world community of Russia’s real role as an aggressor state.” Head of the Institute for strategic studies “New Ukraine” Andrei Ermolaev believes that the issuance of passports to residents of the so-called Donetsk and Luhansk “people’s republics” should be considered as pressure on Vladimir Putin’s newly elected President of Ukraine on the eve of possible negotiations with him:
The peacekeeping process can either be stopped or get a new breath, it all depends on the position of Zelensky
– I think that, firstly, the Russian government raises the bar before possible negotiations. And there is also a game point, because Russia’s decision to limit the supply of oil and oil products, coal to Ukraine, and regarding the issuance of Russian passports radically change the agenda of the negotiations. In fact, these issues exacerbate the problem of a new transitional contractual framework between Ukraine and the Russian Federation and in the civil field, and in the economic field, and for the new government, which has not yet been formed, along with the already known to us the agenda of the Minsk process associated with the settlement of the conflict and cessation of hostilities on the territory of Donbass. Now there is a new situation and in General in relations with Russia, because, regardless of the peacekeeping process, which can either be stopped or, on the contrary, can get a new breath, it all depends on the position of Zelensky. Issues related to the new passport regime, trade, in fact, put on the agenda, on what basis and how Ukraine and Russia will build relations further. The second point is, of course, the reaction to the position broadcast by the newly elected President and his team against Russia. If we recall Zelensky’s interview with RBC-Ukraine, his position on the public platforms before the elections, where he spoke with his team, the position was quite tough. And with regard to the expected recipes for the peacekeeping process, he spoke out against the Amnesty of the separatists, against granting Donbass Autonomous status in any form, and he spoke about a new information war that can be organized by Ukraine in connection with the war in the Donbass. And naturally, all this, I think, catalyzed the situation in the Kremlin, and they set new standards. I do not rule out that Russia’s new position will significantly change the internal political situation in Ukraine, because Zelensky was voted for by both supporters and opponents of Russia, both supporters of ending the war and supporters of radical actions to liberate Donbass. And in this regard, as Zelensky will take a clearer position, it is possible as an electoral and ideological split and a new political split.
The godfather of the Russian President, head of the Political Council of the opposition platform for life party Viktor Medvedchuk sharply criticized Zelensky’s position immediately after the elections, including on the Donbass issue. Andrey Ermolaev continues:
Zelensky’s weak team is now on someone else’s agenda. Not it forms the agenda and asked her
– Mr. Medvedchuk responded to Zelensky’s post-election position and said that he does not see new peacekeeping initiatives here and is not ready to help the Zelensky team with advice now. I see this as a new positioning of the old opposition, and I think that radical nationalist forces, in particular, those focused on Poroshenko, will soon become more active. Because for these forces, Russia’s position is an argument for continuing the policy, which I call the policy of “Poroshenko’s code”: the Western choice, the continuation of the war, the protection of Western economic sanctions against Russia and so on. Here is such a tangle that has developed in connection with the decisions of the Kremlin. If to speak about the long term, in my opinion, the line of the Russian authorities on the creation of new integration projects, in particular, to strengthening the institutions of the Union state, creation of new mechanisms of interaction with the periphery, in particular, with the enclave of the unrecognized so-called “DNR” and “LNR”, accompanied here with such tools. The emergence of hundreds of thousands of Russian citizens living in the unrecognized republics provides new opportunities and spheres of influence for the Russian authorities in the Caucasus and Donbas, and let’s not forget that there is still such a boiler as Transnistria, not allowed to the end. I think that this is laying the Foundation for a new geopolitical line of Russia, which may unfold from 2020. I want to draw attention to the most important thing: unfortunately, indeed, the team of the newly elected President of Ukraine does not have a clearly defined strategic line, the General wishes look too abstract and there is a lack of readiness of the new team to respond quickly to new emerging situations. They still live in elections, and politics are events, decisions, initiatives, and actions every day. To this they were not ready and, plus to everything, judging by the situation that is now unfolding around Zelensky and his team, the feeling is that they are “driven” – a huge number of calls, obligations, formulated certain answers that create a corridor of opportunities and restrictions for Zelensky long before his entry into office in the range of personnel policy, the formulation of possible corruption cases, internal political tasks in the near future around parliamentary elections, party membership and so on. All this suggests that the weak, easy team Zelensky is now in someone else’s agenda. Not it forms the agenda and asked her. One of the elements of this set external agenda is now the active position of the Russian authorities, which complicates the situation in the Donbass, creates new opportunities for influence through the distribution of passports, which means that it will be new arguments on the right of the Russian Federation to protect the interests of its new citizens, including in such issues as military and humanitarian security, – says political scientist Andrei Ermolaev.
mission, says analyst of the Institute of Euro-Atlantic cooperation Vladimir Gorbach:
– If the Ukrainian side does not agree to the Russian version, the model of the introduction of these peacekeepers, then the Russians simply legalize their presence in the Ukrainian territory in their own Russian legislation. Then, think about the peacekeepers, we are not going to go, but there will be the legalization of occupation.
Putin’s decree on the issuance of Russian passports to residents of non-government-controlled areas of Donbass Vladimir Gorbach calls the beginning of intimidation Zelensky:
The Kremlin wants to “push” this territory with the population controlled by Russia into the political space of Ukraine
– The decision can be explained only by an attempt to influence, to put pressure on the future vis-a-vis on negotiations, that is, in principle, it is the beginning of intimidation of the President Zelensky. And, on the other hand, it may indicate a change of strategy or tactics of the Kremlin in relation to the Donbass, that is, from the strategy of “cram” this territory with the population controlled by Russia into the political space of Ukraine and thus influence Ukraine from within. Perhaps such a strategy is abandoned and will give Russian citizenship to recognize the presence of Russian troops in the Donbass, which will protect, as Putin said human rights. Probably, the rights of the Russian person.
Will Zelensky dissolve the Verkhovna Rada?
On April 30, the Central Election Commission of Ukraine is going to announce the official results of the presidential elections, and the inauguration of Zelensky should take place no later than June 3. In the middle of the week Zelensky accused the CEC of delaying the results of the elections, in turn, the Central Election Commission recalled that this process, according to the law, is given 10 days. Obviously, Zelensky’s team would like to hold the inauguration until May 27, when the constitutional term of the possibility of dissolution by the head of state of the Verkhovna Rada expires – six months before the termination of its powers. However, a number of lawyers argue that the powers of the current Rada can last until December 14, so the new President will be able to dissolve the Parliament until June 14. However, most analysts suggest that Zelensky will have to work with the current Verkhovna Rada and the government until the upcoming parliamentary elections in late October. The speaker of Parliament Andrey Parubiy this week declared that there are neither political nor legal bases for early termination of powers of the Verkhovna Rada. The representative of the parliamentary faction “Petro Poroshenko Bloc” Alexei mushak considers the launch of the scenario of early elections unlikely:
With the government, Zelensky will be the neutral-loving relationship
– President Zelensky will have 226 votes (the minimum required to make a decision in the Parliament. – Primas’. ed.) for some specific laws and regulations, but constantly he will not have these votes. Early elections, in my opinion, are unlikely. The beneficiaries of such a potential solution have a limited number of parties. Relatively speaking, three parties are in favor of the dissolution of the Rada, and the rest are against, and this is not enough. With the government, Zelensky will be, say, the neutral-delicate relationship. The government will not oppose the President. And the President will have no other option but to find a compromise in the work with the Cabinet of Ministers.
erotik negotiations Zelensky and Putin?
Meeting Zelensky and Putin is not in the schedule
– We perfectly understand that prepared this decree much earlier, and now when the power passes from the former President to the new and weakness of the Ukrainian power is observed, Putin used this period. Meeting Zelensky and Putin is not in the schedule. It will happen when there is something to talk about. The subject of conversation, probably, maybe the issue of the release of Ukrainian sailors from prison in Russia. The decision in principle to release them has been taken. But as it will be presented, it will become clear after negotiations. Other important decisions and breakthroughs following a possible meeting Zelensky and Putin should not be expected, said Alexei mushak. The Deputy emphasizes that any possible agreements between the two presidents will not be implemented without the approval of the Ukrainian Parliament:
He will have to find a balance of interests between those who want peace at any cost, and those who are against any agreements with Russia
– In any case, the last word in making any decisions for the Verkhovna Rada. Whether it is about changing some law, granting more rights or something else. And Zelensky will definitely not have a majority on these issues. Even President Poroshenko had some problems with parliamentary votes, despite the fact that he has the largest faction. President Zelensky will not be able to implement any of his agreements with Putin through the current Verkhovna Rada until the election of the next Parliament.
According to political scientist Vladimir Fesenko, the newly elected President will have to reckon with the Patriotic sentiments of Ukrainians who oppose any compromises with the Russian Federation.
“We have very strong militant, Patriotic sentiments, in particular, the mood of such a plan: no compromise with Russia. And he will have to reckon with these moods, willingly or unwittingly. He will have to find a balance of interests between those who want peace at any cost, and those who are against any agreements with Russia. It will be a very difficult task for him and for his team – to find some flexible compromise that would suit the Ukrainian society. All the more compromise, which would have agreed and Russia”, – emphasizes Vladimir Fesenko.In which of the European capitals will make the first visit of the new President of Ukraine?
26 APR Vladimir Zelensky flew to Turkey. “We agreed to be open. So. Flying to Turkey. Taking the kids to the annual fun festival. And himself through 2 days ago. For 4 months… this is the first weekend,” Zelensky wrote on Facebook. Meanwhile, journalists and politicians are trying to predict where the sixth President of Ukraine will make his first official visit: to Berlin, Warsaw or Paris? The floor – to the representative of Zelensky’s team, the expert on questions of the international relations and democracy Alexander Merezhko:
A visit to the Polish capital would be quite symbolic
– For example, Warsaw was offered. A visit to the Polish capital would be quite symbolic. It is clear that the first visit should emphasize who is our strategic partner. I think that Washington would be a good option, for example, because the United States is the main ally and friend of Ukraine. And this should be one of the foundations of our foreign policy doctrine. That is, maybe Washington or Warsaw, because Poland is very actively supported and continues to support Ukraine in the international arena. Recently, there have been some misunderstandings in the Ukrainian-Polish relations, so such a visit would emphasize that Ukraine appreciates strategic ties with Poland and is ready for further close cooperation. Berlin is possible, and I wouldn’t rule out Paris. After all, Vladimir Zelensky’s visit before the second round as a presidential candidate was to the capital of France and, as far as I understand, he had a good relationship with Emmanuel Macron.
– President Petro Poroshenko, who lost the elections, said he was ready to lead a strong opposition to protect the constitutional course of Ukraine’s membership in NATO and the EU. But after all Vladimir Zelensky, judging by his interview on the eve of the second round of elections to RBC-Ukraine Agency, declared that will adhere to a Pro-Western course.
Pro-European, Pro-NATO course remains
– It is one of the myths that extended ill-wishers of the new President. In fact, the Pro-European, Pro-NATO course remains. Even the implementation of this course will become more intensive and at the same time, perhaps, more pragmatic. I personally advocate that Ukraine, of course, become a member of the European Union and NATO. But the question is: is NATO ready to accept us? Suppose that tomorrow Ukraine applies for membership in the Alliance. Here’s the problem – I think you need to be realistic. By the way, Poroshenko did not tell the whole truth in this regard. Imagine yourself in the place of NATO. Ukraine is going and ready to become a member of this military-political bloc. Will NATO accept us, given that part of our territory is annexed by the Russian Federation and part is under military occupation, Russian troops, in fact, are on our territory? It would be problematic for NATO to accept us as members of its organization now, as this could lead to a direct armed clash between the Alliance and Russia. We must also talk about this, and this is a very difficult and serious issue. The situation is similar to Georgia. Georgia even held a referendum on joining NATO, but NATO is not particularly in a hurry to accept Georgia, probably for such pragmatic military purposes. The whole truth must be told: what are our prospects for joining NATO? That’s first. And secondly, we understand that some part of the population in Ukraine does not support the idea of joining the Alliance. It is necessary to carry out educational and explanatory work to increase the number of supporters of Ukraine’s accession to NATO. Even the constitutional commitment to EU and NATO membership does not mean that such a step will somehow affect the decision to accept us into NATO or the EU. You can even pass a law that Ukraine is a member of NATO, which also will not affect reality. Much depends on the position of the Alliance itself.
The Russian President this week signed the decree on simplified granting of citizenship to residents ORDO. Is it possible after these direct talks between Vladimir Zelensky and Vladimir Putin, who previously did not exclude the newly elected President in the team?
This is a step towards the annexation of part of the territory of Donbass. And Ukraine is obliged to react to it in the most rigid way
– My point is that any negotiations should be conducted. Especially given the fact that Ukraine and Russia are at war, and Russia is our enemy. This is absolutely obvious to everyone. The recent actions of Putin personally as an international lawyer cause enormous concern to me because this is a step towards the annexation of part of the territory of Donbass. And Ukraine is obliged to react to it in the most rigid way. Again, this is indeed a step towards annexation. And of course, the new President will take this decision of the Kremlin into account in his foreign policy, but I think that before deciding on direct talks with Putin, it is necessary to hold consultations with our allies. Only after these consultations will it be possible to give a final answer on what to do next and how to proceed. It should be noted that it is one thing when it is a candidate for President of Ukraine, he does not have a complete picture of foreign policy realities, that is, the situation in which Ukraine is. Only when it becomes a full-fledged President and will go down in the course of the case, including him will be given all the necessary information, sometimes, you know, the information was confidential, after meetings with representatives of our allies and our friends, only then the President will form a complete picture of foreign reality. And then it will be possible to make decisions about how, in what format, in what form to negotiate with Putin.
One of the first with the victory in the election of Vladimir Zelensky congratulated us, President Donald Trump. How will Kiev’s relations with Washington be built under Zelensky’s presidency, and how do you feel about the calls of Ukrainian parliamentarians to conclude a defense Treaty with the US (involving the provision of military assistance to Ukraine in defense against external aggression, such treaties the US has with South Korea and Japan)?
The Ukrainian people should be grateful to the United States for the help that America has provided us in the fight against Russian aggression
– Well, first of all, we have been and remain strategic partners and allies. The United States is really the guarantor of Ukraine’s security. This is perhaps the only state that fully supports Ukraine, its independence and sovereignty. And I believe that the Ukrainian people should be very grateful to the United States and the American people for the help that America has already given us in the fight against Russian aggression. Regardless of who is the President of the United States or Ukraine, the strategic partnership between the two countries will continue, and I am sure that they will only grow stronger, there is no doubt. The US has always played a constructive role. They do not tell the Ukrainian people who should and who should not be President. They respect the choice of the Ukrainian people. As for the Treaty, I think it is unrealistic. The United States provides all-around support to Ukraine, but whether they are ready to conclude an international Treaty that could force them to find themselves in a situation of war with Russia – I deeply doubt it. I believe that the US is pursuing a very correct, pragmatic and cautious policy. And ultimately, this policy is aimed at peace, stabilization of interstate relations, – said the representative of the team of the newly elected President of Ukraine Alexander Merezhko.
Vladimir Zelensky is not going to meet with Vladimir Putin one-on-one, their negotiations can take place only in the “Normandy format” (that is, together with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron), reported the Agency “UKRINFORM”, citing former Polish President Alexander Kwasniewski, who met with Zelensky a week before the second round of elections. At the same time, according to the newspaper “Mirror of the week”, Zelensky’s team has already formulated questions that should be discussed at the talks with Russia. The first is the cessation of armed aggression in Eastern Ukraine. The second is a cease-fire there, the withdrawal of troops from the “collision zone”. The third is the return of prisoners of war and political hostages of the Kremlin. And the fourth is the fulfillment by Russia of its obligations as an occupying country.