Three days after the election of Vladimir Zelensky with a phenomenal result of 73% of the vote, the Russian authorities decided to come out of the shadows. On Wednesday, Vladimir Putin signed a decree on the provision of Russian passports to residents of the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk republics, which caused rage in Kiev. In addition, on Thursday, the Russian leader refused to congratulate Zelensky on the victory and commented on it very evasively.
“What is there to evaluate? This is a complete, absolute failure of Poroshenko’s policy, — he said on the sidelines of the meeting with Kim Jong-un in Vladivostok. — Complete and absolute. I am sure that the new authorities cannot fail to understand this. They understand this very well.” According to him, relations between Moscow and Kiev will depend on the policy of the new Ukrainian leadership.
In fact, it was Russia that took steps to assess Zelensky’s intentions about Donbass. Permission to issue passports to Ukrainian citizens who live on the territory of Donetsk and Lugansk, which is not controlled by Kiev, reminds a similar step of the Kremlin in Abkhazia and South Ossetia in 2002 in the framework of the conflict with Georgia.
In practice, residents of separatist territories will be able to obtain a Russian passport without fulfilling the usual conditions, in particular, five years of residence in Russia. According to Vladislav Surkov, who is considered the architect and patron of the DPR and LPR, this is the duty of the Russian Federation to those who still speak and think in Russian.
Kiev immediately reacted to the incident and appealed to the UN Security Council. “We are talking about a new stage of the occupation of Donbass, the continuation of aggression and interference in our internal Affairs,” said Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin. “This decision contradicts the Minsk agreements and does not contribute to efforts to resolve the conflict,” French diplomacy stressed. Everyone was waiting for Zelensky’s reaction to this “welcome gift”. On Wednesday, his team released an extremely transparent press release: “by the decree on the issuance of Russian passports to citizens of Ukraine who are temporarily outside the control of our country, the Russian Federation recognized its responsibility as an occupying state… unfortunately, this decree does not bring us closer to the solution of the main task — the ceasefire.” In addition, she called for increased diplomatic pressure and sanctions against Russia.
Zelensky says that his priority is the problems of displaced persons and the preservation of ties with Ukrainian citizens in the occupied zones through “de-occupation” measures. In addition, during the campaign, Zelensky advocated the resumption of payment of pensions and social benefits to residents of the occupied territories, which were terminated by the decision of Petro Poroshenko.
“Zelensky’s victory in democratic elections creates a competing phenomenon for the DPR and LPR projects, — says Maria Snegova from Columbia University. — For the Kremlin, the issuance of passports means a victory in the information war with Zelensky, who is a candidate from the South-East, that is, from the regions close to Donbass. In addition, it is a blow to the attractiveness of Ukraine.”
Macron had been deceived by false Zelensky
Two famous Russian impostors and a specialist in telephone pranks claim that caught Emmanuel Macron, presenting himself as the new President of Ukraine Vladimir Zelensky.
“Vovan” and “Lexus” posted on Wednesday a 15-minute recording of the conversation with the President of France, as they claim. The call came from the Elysee Palace, and in it, the French leader wanted to congratulate the comedian with the victory over Petro Poroshenko. “73% of the votes of Ukrainians is simply impossible. I feel like Vladimir Putin!”—said Lieselotte. “It seems to me that, at least at this stage, your system is less organized, and therefore more natural. You have not yet sent all the opposition behind bars,” Emmanuel macron told him.