Ukraine and the West – war and elections

11:42 07.09.2023 • Denis Baturin , political scientist

The western version of what caused the explosions on Nord Stream 1 and Nord Stream 2 is being provided with more and more details which prove that Ukrainians are behind the blasts. Why is it? At the beginning, they pointed to some obscure characters, Ukrainian business people, with no connection to the government. Now, the French Le Figaro describes Kyiv as «the main suspect in the sabotage on Nord Streams. The French have analyzed data published by New York Times, Die Zeit, Süddeutsche Zeitung, ZDF and Der Spiegel and have come to the conclusion that Ukraine is top suspect, though earlier inquiries cited several countries, including Poland, the United States and even Russia.[i] According to media reports on the bombings of Nord Streams, the German investigators have no doubts that they were organized by the Ukrainian Armed Forces with the support of western allies. What is important is that having explored all the versions, from the participation of warships to submarines, the German prosecutors have finally confirmed that the subversive act was perpetrated with the assistance of the Andromeda yacht, which was rented on September 6 in the German port of Warnemunde and which set off to the Danish island of Bornholm. On board the vessel they discovered traces of octogen (HMX), an explosive which was created to be used underwater. Its fragments were found on the pipes of Nord Stream which were destroyed in the bombings. The Andromeda yacht, which was tracked down by German investigators long ago, was used, according to the old version, by the very not-related-to-government Ukrainians. What is new is that one member of the crew was identified as a Ukrainian – Valery K rented the yacht using a false Moldovan passport. According to Der Spiegel, this is a regular military man, affiliated with mechanized brigade 93 of the Ukrainian Armed Forces. And the most interesting fact is that the six-member crew, which included combat swimmers and a doctor, acted on orders from Ukrainian Chief Commander Valerii Zaluzhnyi. What is equally significant is that according to the western press, some western countries were informed about Ukraine’s plan and attempted to talk it out of pursuing it. In a word, it all comes down to not just Ukraine, but one particular individual – Chief Military Commander Zaluzhnyi. With a view to keep face and prevent the investigation from tracking them down, Ukraine’s western patrons pointed to Kyiv, and to one particular person. Why? The answer should be provided by the situation which the West and Ukraine are currently in.

At the moment, a reference to Zaluzhnyi is a present for Zelensky, considering that presidential elections are just round the corner but he has no particular desire to hold them because there are no guarantees at home or beyond that he will win. Despite the fact that he and his western entourage have built “a regime of absolute democracy” – one president, one party, the majority in parliament, control of power vertical, censorship of media. Though, the strategic control of power structures and the military is exercised by the patrons from Washington and London. The price to pay for “the democracy”, so to speak.

The western press names Zaluzhnyi the organizer of the pipeline bombings. They must be wary of him on Bankovaya, where he is suspected of Bonapartism. Meanwhile, in the present-day world of false values and time-serving political interests Zaluzhnyi may well qualify as a candidate for presidency, particularly since the purpose of the West is to further zombify and militarize Ukraine and prepare it for a never-ending war. Thus, a general could do well as president, and the fact that he wears a bracelet with swastikas complements the image. In this kind of values, Zaluzhnyi comes as a “liberator”, in particular, a liberator of Germany from Russian “energy weapons”.

As for foreign policy consequences, they hold Ukraine responsible for blowing up the pipelines, but they blame Zaluzhnyi, not Zelensky. But this is not an issue with him, either on the domestic, or the foreign space. It is solvable. In the future, if they pronounce Ukraine the perpetrator and the organizer of this sabotage – they will say that it was for the good of Europe. This trend will go on a media spin and everyone will be forced to believe it… It happened before.

For Zelensky, the situation is fairly comfortable – Ukraine did the “good” for Europe by liberating it from the Russian gas, and Zelensky is not to blame for it. On the one hand.

On the other hand, it is known that Zelensky is unwilling to run for the  next presidential elections and is making the West frantic blackmail-like hysterical scenes. Why would the West be interested in the elections in Ukraine? To feign democracy – change and election of power, regardless of anything; to demonstrate that democracy works in any conditions. The West wants the government in Ukraine to stay stable. The elections imitating democracy can be held in a warring nation, there can be doubts of that. It’s not for the first time that Ukraine faces elections in a state of conflict. But, should the elections be canceled, there could emerge problems and questions. A number of western media and part of Ukrainian society may raise an information wave, which could hit hard on not only Zelensky, but on European officials who support him.[ii] A no-easy dilemma.

Ukrainian presidential adviser Mikhail Podolyak claims that in public President Vladimir Zelensky speaks about the elections with caution, but he does not rule out holding them in the conditions of the war. [iii] Parliamentary elections are due in Ukraine in October this year, presidential – in spring 2024. Under the Constitution, the elections cannot take place in a state of war. Zelensky has repeatedly said that presidential elections can take place only after the end of the military operations. In the words of Podolyak, Zelensky makes it clear that there will be no elections before the end of the hostilities: «The president talks about it with caution, I can afford to be more blunt <...>. This year there will surely be no elections». Podolyak ruled out parliamentary or presidential elections next year as well, making it clear that Kyiv has no intention of heeding the words of a US Senator, referring to them as only part of the discussion. «To hold parliamentary elections in the course of military operations will mean restricting the rights of a considerable number of people. We will not go for it…». Western patrons, however, insist on the elections: Republican Senator Lindsey Graham has said presidential elections in Ukraine should take place according to schedule, regardless of military operations. Following that, Zelensky’s rhetoric somewhat changed; in his recent interview on Ukrainian television he considered holding the elections in the state of war but only on condition the West paid for this triumph of democracy. As for parliamentary elections, Zelensky has said a firm ‘no’, they are not on schedule, the calendar plan has been disrupted, parliament remains under the control of his party “The Servant of the People”. About the statement on financing the elections, let’s examine the opinion by Vladimir Kornilov, an expert on Ukrainian political processes: «Just think about this phrase: «I will not hold elections on borrowed money»!!! He has become so cheeky that he has the nerve to make it clear to his US and EU sponsors that they must shell out for Ukrainian elections. And he even said how much he thought the service would cost – 5 billion (yes, FIVE BILLION!) of God knows what – anyway, many media see it as a request to donate five billion dollars, as they discussed the issue with an American Senator. Just in case, a reminder: the elections of the Ukrainian president in 2019, when Zelensky won, cost the budget 86 million dollars, or 2.3 billion hryvnias. Back then, Kyiv had more territories under its control and more voters!»[iv] 

Senator Lindsey Graham de facto says that the Ukrainian issue will top the agenda of the presidential campaign in the USA. For this reason, American voters need to be told why America sort of “defends democracy” in a country where democratic elections have been abolished for a fact and the president and parliament have lost even official legitimacy after their terms expired, Kornilov points out: «So he is asking Kyiv: would you announce the winners and label the entire process as “democratic elections”, and we will acknowledge that, as it is the case in the majority of dictatorships, loyal to the USA. And election simulation cannot cost much».

The United States has cynically been dragging Ukraine into the electoral situation: «The Joe Biden Administration can provide Ukraine with non-descript and insufficiently convincing security guarantees because it has no potential to secure their implementation over the next few years».[v] This is what the hegemon says. The future of the world depends on the presidential elections in the USA, they say, without any second thoughts. If the Democrats lose, Joe Biden will not be re-elected, then everyone will suffer, so we provide no guarantees. This does inspire fear in Kyiv, Paris, Berlin, Warsaw and other anti-Russian capitals. All ruling regimes are under threat, Kyiv has openly been told about it, but it concerns everyone, and everyone understands that. Zelensky chose to bargain over that.

The only reason for cancelling the elections and/or demanding an outrageously big sum “for elections” is the war. For Zelensky, peace spells a political death. “According to recent surveys, 77% of Ukrainians consider Zelensky (and not without grounds) responsible for rampant corruption. Once the guns stop rambling and Zelensky becomes unneeded, he will instantly turn into a scapegoat to bear all the sins of Ukraine.[vi] 

Back to Zaluzhnyi. Here, there is less of policy so far, but more of a war. Zaluzhnyi went into conflict with western patrons. The Chief Military Commander of the Ukrainian Armed Forces explained as he met with NATO generals where they ought to go with their tips and recommendations as to how, where and by what means, they recommend to carry out a counter-offensive. NATO advises to save shells, concentrate artillery strikes on key facilities in order to move towards their goals, rely less on drones and more on land-based intelligence which will detect Russian positions better».[vii] According to observers, this is a strange correction of NATO’s instructions – unlike before, when they stated that “drones are our everything”, now, they are teaching Ukrainian generals what they already know only too well from the Soviet warfare school they all came from – walk with your feet, see with your eyes.[viii]

In the opinion of the Pentagon, Kyiv should have amassed on one frontline the maximum number of troops for a breakthrough attempt. The idea is crystal clear – a powerful strike on Melitopol- Mariupol and NATO is washing their boots in the Sea of Azov, the land route to Crimea is blocked. The image is brilliant, streams, social networks and CNN are showing the Azov beaches. But all this may end at the troops concentration stage without even a chance to begin. But the images of a successful counter-attack are needed so badly! Tanks with crosses on the streets of Melitopol! Even if for a short time. The West will explain later – shortage of weapons, Ukrainians couldn’t use them to effect, the Russians – so terrifying and crafty.

But Chief Commander Zaluzhnyi, Colonel-General Olexandr Syrskyi, Commander of the Ukrainian Ground Forces, in defiance of recommendations by Kyiv’s western allies, insist on strengthening the defenses of Kupiansk, The New York Times writes.[ix] The Ukrainian command is trying to divide troops evenly between the eastern and southern fronts.

The Guardian says that the Ukrainian army strategy has changed in wake of a secret meeting between Zaluzhnyi and NATO’s high-ranking officers. The meeting was attended by American General Christopher Cavoli and Chief of Defense Staff of the UK Tony Radakin. The Guardian sources acknowledge that the strategy did change after the discussions. «I think you could have noticed that they focused on the Zaporizhzhian front», — an insider said.[x] It is unclear from press reports whether Zaluzhnyi told NATO that it was essential to keep all fronts, or whether NATO made him concentrate on Zaporizhzhia. It will become clear from Ukrainian army moves. So far, western press is reporting that Zaluzhnyi will act in line with the NATO scenario of a breakthrough in one part of the front.

Zelensky and Zaluzhnyi possess one and the same resource – Ukrainian lives. They plan to use this resource in the same manner – to dispatch to the front. And they share political agenda as well – to demonstrate to the Ukrainians who is more efficient at exterminating Ukrainians – politicians or the military. Zelensky is more sensitive to foreign policy storms than Zaluzhnyi, a defeat of a Democratic candidate will become a problem for Zelensky but will mean opportunity for the general. At closer scrutiny, Zaluzhnyi’s position turns out to be the position of a politician – as chief commander of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, he uses the resources available to him within his area of responsibility. These are weapons and people. Zaluzhnyi has no such political power as Zelensky, which means he has less of political responsibility. A new wave of mobilization will turn a heavy burden on Zelensky, while Zaluzhnyi, he only led soldiers to battle, acting to fulfil the orders, and it doesn’t matter that the orders came from NATO offices, for this is the format in which present-day Ukraine exists. Zaluzhnyi engages in politics using all means available. For a breakthrough, the Ukrainian general needs a victory or the freezing of the conflict in the course of which he will go into politics, while his combat experience will be portrayed as the road to glory by “the victor and rescuer of Ukraine”. In the meantime, we should remember that Zaluzhnyi is not the only pebble on the beach. There can be other options.

The main issue Zelensky is confronted with at the moment is how to address a new level of de-legitimization of Ukrainian power. Parliament has not been re-elected, president has no intention of being re-elected. Ever since the first color revolution in Ukraine in 2005, the legitimacy of Ukrainian power has been an issue that keeps building up. Strange as it might seem, the same issue is currently being addressed in the USA. The United States is nearing presidential elections, while the issue of Ukraine, so tightly linked to Biden, is becoming ever more toxic for Democratic candidates. It seemed to the Democrats that everything would be so easy – to donate money and supply weapons. For this reason, Ukraine has become a key foreign policy project of President Joe Biden.


The opinion of the author may not coincide with the position of the Editorial













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