Nicolai N. Petro
Volodymr Zelensky’s election win was a result of Ukraine’s pent-up demand for normalcy with Russia. But now it looks like Ukraine’s new president is succumbing to nationalist pressure.
Will Nationalism Poison Ukraine’s New President?
Ever since Volodymyr Zelensky’s upset victory in April, Ukrainians have been wondering whether their newly elected president will take new approaches to resolve the conflict with Russia. His thumping victory over Petro Poroshenko, who tried to dismiss all of his opponents as puppets of Russian Vladimir Putin puppets, uncovered a strong, untapped desire to end the Russophobia that has been porminant with over the past five years. During that time, the Poroshenko and other senior government officials routinely referred to Ukrainians who wanted better relations with Russia as a “fifth column.”
During the campaign Zelensky outflanked Poroshenko by promising to do anything to achieve peace, including direct negotiations with Putin. Since winning the election, however, Zelensky has backtracked from this pledge and reassured the West that he has no intention of negotiating with Putin without Western intermediaries present. In sum, he continues to try to be everything to everyone by telling each person whatever it is they want to hear.
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