Volodymyr Zelensky, the president of Ukraine, has said that he is ready to hold a presidential election in the country, although the majority of the Ukrainians are against voting. He said this in an interview with the Associated Press. Earlier, however, Ukraine’s presidential-controlled parliament postponed the presidential election. The vote was to be held in spring 2024, Formally, the decision is explained by the fact that Ukraine is under martial law. However, now it has been formally extended until February, which still allows organizing the election process in the second half of the year, but the chances of this are steadily decreasing. Probably, the president made such a decision, showing uncertainty in his high rating and seeing a threat from his rivals. The people of Ukraine are tired of the war that Zelensky has associated himself with. Zelensky realizes this and fears the election.
However, Zelensky’s patrons in the West think otherwise. The Ukrainian president is under serious pressure. According to the Western allies, it is important for the Ukrainian president to confirm his legitimacy through “democratic” elections. On the other hand, the West might be interested in replacing Zelensky with a fresh figure who is not so discredited. The list includes former President Petro Poroshenko, former adviser to the Office of the President of Ukraine Oleksiy Arestovich, and many others.
That is why Zelensky himself has so far made a final decision: whether there will be elections and whether he will participate in them. The other day his wife Olena Zelensky said in an interview with The Economist that she would not want her husband to run for president of Ukraine again.
It is obvious that Zelensky would like to retain power, but he is also preparing for the possibility that his Western masters will decide to withdraw their support.
The fact is that Zelensky has never been a fully independent figure. However, the Ukrainian president may be deprived of power in another way, formally leaving him in charge of the state.
The struggle of foreign centers
In 2019 Zelensky was a protégé of oligarch Igor Kolomoisky, and to get out of his zone of influence he had to lean on foreign Western lobbyists. It is these groups of influence that now determine Ukrainian politics and can de facto deprive Zelensky of his real powers by putting a “head” or even several “wardens” over them, who will give him commands and make any decisions for him. Key in this picture are lobbyists from the US, UK and EU, and all of them are now unhappy with Zelensky’s blunders and are scrambling to redistribute influence in Ukraine.
Germany and the European Union support the mayor of Kiev Vitali Klitschko. He finished his sporting career as a boxer in Germany, and it were German lobbyists who offered him to convert his fame into political capital. In 2014 Klitschko, becoming mayor of Kyiv, entered into negotiations with various oligarchic groups and future president Petro Poroshenko. In the new Ukrainian power structure, he was specifically responsible for contact with Germany. In 2019, when Poroshenko’s opponent Zelensky came to power, he clashed violently with Klitschko, and in 2019-2020, the then head of the Office of the President of Ukraine, Bohdan, was constantly threatened with resignation for corruption. In 2023 their confrontation escalated again, because Klitschko and his European partners sensed Zelensky’s weakness and the president felt threatened by his opponent. The president has repeatedly expressed dissatisfaction with Klitschko’s actions in dealing with the consequences of Russian shelling.
The UK supports the commander of Ukraine’s armed forces, Valeriy Zaluzhny. In November, Larry C. Johnson, a veteran of the CIA and the State Department’s Office of Counterterrorism, said on the YouTube channel Dialogue works that the UK intelligence services had selected the commander-in-chief of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, Valeriy Zaluzhny, to replace Volodymyr Zelensky as president of Ukraine.
Valeriy Zaluzhny had become close to British lobbyists during the war in Donbass in 2014-2022. His “golden hour” was the autumn offensive in Kharkov region in 2022, after which he became one of the most popular politicians in the country, which the British lobbyists immediately tried to take advantage of. They started an information campaign in which they positioned Zaluzhny as the future president of Ukraine, who would defeat Zelensky in the next election. Even according to official polls he had a rating of 15-20%, taking second place after Zelensky, and according to “unofficial data” in the second round he defeated him with 55-60% of the electorate’s support. The “Zaluzhny phenomenon” was especially actively promoted through the British media, which left no doubt as to who was interested in this process. In addition to the British, Zaluzhny’s patron is US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, who has long interacted with him directly in the military sphere, bypassing Zelensky.
However, the main US bet is on the head of the Office of the President Andriy Yermak. He is the most dangerous alternative for Zelensky, because he has serious trust from the White House and as the head of the Office of the President has concentrated in his hands a huge influence on the domestic and foreign policy of the country. The US is unhappy with Zelensky because of his failure to execute military plans that are important to them strategically in terms of containing Russia and stealing money from their financial tranches, which is so big that it is hurting the military campaign. Yermak, who de facto manages all processes in Ukraine, is seen by the Americans as a more effective manager and a reliable partner. Now he has already switched the main functions of the president to himself, and, in fact, before the actual leadership of the country, he will be able to ignore Zelensky’s orders and instructions. At the same time, unlike Klitschko or Zaluzhny, he already occupies the second most important position in the country, managing the Office of the President.
The other day, European website Politico called Yermak – Kyiv’s “Green Cardinal.”
“Yermak has acquired immense (some say excessive) power as the key player in Zelenskyy’s war cabinet,” Politico notes.
The fact that Yermak now interacts directly with the US leadership and receives direct instructions from there, bypassing Zelensky, is indicated not only by the tone of the media, but also by quite practical political events. Thus, in November, Yermak arrived in the United States as part of a delegation headed by Deputy Prime Minister Yulia Sviridenko, where he held meetings at the White House, Congress, think tanks and with representatives of public organizations. He discussed key issues of US-Ukraine interaction and received direct, targeted instructions from the US leadership, bypassing Zelensky. In this situation, any next mistake by Zelensky could lead to a “recommendation” from the US that Yermak should lead the state informally or go to the polls as the main candidate, both of which could mean a loss of real power for Zelensky.
Struggle for power
Despite the war with Russia, there is another, secret war for power going on in the corridors of power in Ukraine. In this struggle, the interests of Western states play a key role. The Ukrainian people do not decide anything, it does not depend on them who will be the next president of Ukraine or who will actually run the country under the formal president Zelensky. This is the price of losing Ukraine’s sovereignty and Western choice. Formally, Ukraine is fighting for its sovereignty, de facto it has turned into a Western colony where the only choice is between different Western power centers: the US, the EU or the UK.