Why Ukraine wants to end the war by March

Elizabeth Smith

The Ukrainian counteroffensive is not going as planned and will not achieve the goals it set for itself during last spring. There are several reasons for this. Namely, the increased number of Russian soldiers on the ground, the territory littered with landmines, the trenches dug by the Russians barring the advance routes, and the fatigue of Kiev’s troops.

Analysts are predicting that the end of the Ukrainian advance will become decisive within a month, especially complicit in the stalemate in the southeast of the country. The United States, Russia, China and the European Union are waiting for no more.

The only ill will is that brought by President Volodymyr Zelensky, who also certifies in spite of himself Ukraine’s internal political crisis. Here’s why and what’s going on.

War and elections: the Ukrainian mission impossible

As Foreign Policy reports, Zelensky reflexively admitted last week that the conflict against the invaders is set to last for a long time. Indeed, the Ukrainian president confirmed that presidential elections, scheduled for March, will not be held. This, as long as martial law and the state of war against Russia remain in effect in the country.

In the rosiest of predictions and plans, the Ukrainian counteroffensive was supposed to break the Russian second line of defense. Thus cutting in two the connection to Crimea and Mariupol to the south, effectively marking a turning point in the conflict. All by the arrival of winter. It is already too late, then.

Zelensky’s potential move has been hailed by many conservative and right-wing analysts, including in the West, as a “stab at democracy. Thus underscoring the Ukrainian president’s authoritarian conduct in canceling popular consultations “at will.”

The state of war, in this sense, is seen as an “excuse” to extend his presidential term beyond its natural expiration. Clearing the field of reactionary propaganda, there is one primary fact to take into account.

The news was certainly no surprise to the Ukrainian electorate. The pressure on wartime elections came entirely from outside. The most consistent of these “outside nudges” came from U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham. Who, during a visit to Kiev in August, argued that the Ukrainian government should hold elections in 2024.

The question of the vote: what will happen in Ukraine

Despite the leadership’s intentions, external pressure on Ukraine cannot cease, given Western involvement in humanitarian and war support.

Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly President Tiny Kox reiterated his hope that the invaded country will “hold free and fair elections.” In the end, however, it matters what Ukrainian citizens think.

According to a recent poll conducted by the International Institute of Sociology in Kiev, for the vast majority of them the idea of holding presidential elections next spring is “absurd.” In fact, 81 percent of respondents believe that elections should not be held before the end of the conflict.

Why elections should not be held in Ukraine

Net of external pressures and considerations, 70 percent of Ukrainians said they intended to vote for Zelensky, with more than 50 percent of respondents supporting his ruling party, “Servant of the People” (Слуга народу, “Sluha Narodu”).

The extent of Zelensky’s dominant advantage over his political opponents is almost unheard of in any global democracy.

Few leaders in the world enjoy the same level of popular support and legitimacy that the Ukrainian president’s government currently enjoys. This is not a government that questions its own democratic legitimacy, and if elections were held in March, the results would hand the coalition led by “Servant of the People” another landslide victory. On paper, that is.

Read also: Russia starts recruiting women: what will be their role in the war in Ukraine

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