With the battle showing no sign of ending, President Zelensky needs to brace himself and continue to find a way to reconcile with Russia.
Almost every day, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, wearing an army green shirt, shoots video to send messages to the population, sometimes sitting at his desk or standing outside in the dark. Recently, he warned that difficulties are coming when the war with Russia shows no sign of abating.
“We all want to win, all of us, but there will be fights ahead,” Zelensky said on April 1. “We still have a tough road ahead of us to get to where we’re working.”
He will face a series of challenges as Russia’s military campaign enters its sixth week. He must maintain the spirit and will to fight for Ukraine against the backdrop of increasing war casualties, severe economic losses, and increasingly difficult people’s lives. He must also maintain the West’s belief that Ukraine can withstand a Russian offensive in order to maintain a source of arms aid to Kyiv.
But he must also find out whether there is a political deal with Russia to end the conflict and whether the Ukrainian people are willing to accept it in a referendum.
“He relied on Ukrainian nationalism to fight, but that’s why the war was so difficult to end,” said Keith Darden, a professor of political science at American University.
For months, President Zelensky has been unable to push for a face-to-face discussion of some of Moscow’s demands with Russian President Vladimir Putin. The head of the Ukrainian negotiating team, David Arakamia, said on April 2 that Kyiv was preparing for a possible meeting between Zelensky and Putin in Turkey.
However, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said yesterday that a meeting could only take place if the negotiating teams of the two sides “agreed on a concrete written agreement”.
For President Zelensky, any deal with the Kremlin is a political challenge.
One possibility is that the conflict will continue if he feels he has no public support in making the compromises needed to end the war. Another possibility is that if a peace deal with Russia is signed without broad popular support, strong public support for him will erode.
Zelensky is laying the groundwork for ending his constitutional ambitions to join NATO, noting that the alliance is not yet ready for Ukraine to join. Instead, he focused his energy on securing Ukraine’s accession to the European Union (EU).
The Ukrainian leader has shown that he is a flexible and pragmatic man.in an interview with a magazine economist Last month, President Zelensky defined his victory as “the most lives possible”.
“Our land is important, but in the end it’s just territory,” he said.
But at the same time, Zelensky has vowed to fight to the end to protect territorial integrity.
He also warned that Russian forces could regroup and focus attacks on certain areas, especially those most difficult for Ukrainian forces. Zelensky also called on the Ukrainian people to prepare for a protracted conflict.
“Now, every Ukrainian wants to resist,” commented Mikhail Minakov, a Ukrainian political analyst at the Kennan Institute in the United States. President Zelensky “has to find a way to balance, to keep that spirit, but also to find solutions”.
With the prospect of meeting directly with President Putin to negotiate peace, Zelensky, with the political support of the people and success on the battlefield, has laid a solid foundation. The challenge, though, is whether he can translate that political dominance into a lasting peace accepted by most Ukrainians, observers say.
It is unclear whether this is his favourable moment, as Russian troops remain determined to take control of more territory in the east, while Ukraine has so far been reluctant to give up any land. Surgery on February 24.
Sergey Lesshenko, a former Ukrainian parliament member who advised President Zelensky’s chief of staff, said that despite continued resistance, Ukrainians in the besieged area may want and need a deal to end the fighting.
“In Mariupol, Kharkov and Chernihiv, those living under bombs have far less access to social media than those in safe places,” Leshchenko said in a statement. Before pointing out the dilemma that the president must face.
“People want to stop the conflict and return to normal life,” Lyshchenko said. “But people also want to protect Ukraine. They don’t want to lose territory and sovereignty.”
Takeo (according to Washington post)