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Zelensky “will force Russia to peace” in a year

The new president needs to prepare a “militant political class” for a compromise.

Zelensky has about a year to break the inertia of hatred and hostility inherited from Poroshenko and form a new trend – towards a gradual normalization of relations with Russia. With such a headline  the Kazakhstan online newspaper ZONAKZ published an interview with the well-known Russian political analyst Sergei Stankevich, who in the early 1990s worked as an adviser to President Yeltsin.


Stankevich is convinced that Zelensky is not someone’s multi-way project, which was planned in a secret headquarters, and then promoted for several years with the help of a television series and behind-the-scenes deals. His coming to power is a consequence of the revolt of the electorate against the political system. Stankievich compares phenomenon with the Trump phenomena in the USA, the Macron in France, the Grillo in Italy, the Kurtz in Austria, the Chaputova in Slovakia.


At the same time, Stankevich expresses the opinion that today Zelensky for Russia is a chance for a peaceful way out of the state of the hybrid geopolitical war with Ukraine before this war turns into a frontal full-scale clash, will grow into a full-fledged existential conflict.


The cause of the conflict between our countries, Stankevich sees the coming to power in Ukraine in 2014 of a group of radical Galician ethnocrats who dragged the country into an internal and external ethnocultural and ethnoreligious war. Russia was embroiled in this war, which it didn’t need, and which it now fatally hinders, blocks development.


Ukraine’s withdrawal from the conflict with Russia, switching the country from the state of external and internal ethnocultural war to the mode of sustainable development is the most important task of the new leadership of the country, says Sergey Stankevich. At the same time, he emphasizes that relations can be brought to a relative norm only by simultaneous bilateral efforts. In his conviction, in Russia at the present time there is also a problem of choosing a policy regarding Ukraine: a tough confrontation or a turn towards normalization.


Zelensky proposed to bring the issues of Donbass and relations with Russia to a referendum

Stankevich is confident that the conflict between Russia and Ukraine is fully susceptible to a rational, peaceful and lasting settlement in a short time (12-18 months). In particular, he proposes a quick solution to the “Donbass problem”, which is to be settled according to the principle of “turning the separatists into autonomists” on the basis of Minsk-2 with the introduction of a UN military peacekeeping contingent and holding elections of “temporary commissars” (for two years) with powers to negotiation and completion of the settlement.


In his opinion, Zelensky’s task is to prepare the “militant Ukrainian political class” for a compromise.


About how realistic the proposed recipes are, experts speak:


– Certainly, in the current fatigue of the power of kleptocrats and nationalists, the arrival of Zelensky, far from the Ukrainian elites, looks like the arrival of Macron or Trump, – agrees Larisa Shesler, chairman of the Union of Political Immigrants and Political Prisoners of Ukraine.


– But for many political scientists, the arrival of Trump, Macron and Grillo looks like events of different genesis, and the similarity in some unpredictability of their nomination is not a complete innovation.


Stankevich does not understand methods of constructing Zelensky as a politician. Or maybe he does not want to understand. Zelensky is not just doomed to move within a narrow corridor set by his curators and sponsors. In the very logic of any actions and statements, there is hostility towards Russia. This became quite obvious both in his first interview as a candidate and in his first statements about Russia, as an aggressor, as president.


– They say that President Zelensky for Russia is a chance for a peaceful way out of the hybrid geopolitical war with Ukraine. Do you agree with this?


  • Zelensky is a complete analogue of Saakashvili, who quite successfully fought against the Georgian oligarchs who were not settled by his period, having relatively easily defeated grassroots corruption. However, like Zelensky, Saakashvili’s Russophobia was not a “bug,” but “features”, as they say in IT circles, i.e. This Russophobia was the main core and main content, and not a separate correctable defect. If the most hostile to Russia Ukrainian entrepreneurs have at least an economic motivation to maintain ties with Russia, then Zelensky, due to its remoteness from the business elites, is not even interested in this.

It is because of this that the arrival of Zelensky virtually precludes an improvement in relations with Russia.


– Stankevich is confident that the departure from the power of the ethnocratic “Galician” group will help restore relations. Is “Dnepropetrovsk” grouping something better?


– And again the constructed situation is far from real. In Russia, people are used to thinking that there is a certain super-powerful Galician party in Ukraine, which, because of its passionarity, is defeating the pro-Russian one. In fact, the Galician ideology is only a tool to combat Russia. Neither Russophobe Yushchenko, who grew up in the Sumshina region near Russia, nor Poroshenko from the Odessa region, were Galicians.


The organizers of “Euromaidan” Levochkin or Nayem are not Galicians. Virtually there are none among the oligarchs.


The Russophobic nationalist group came to power in Ukraine not in 2014, but immediately after the collapse of the USSR. Its adherents were not least Russian-speaking Kuchma, who proclaimed “Ukraine is not Russia”, and who organized the first total Ukrainization of education, and even Yanukovych, who was the first to make him speak only Ukrainian at government meetings.


The new president of Ukraine announced the dissolution of parliament, but deputies disagree.

The victory of Ukrainian nationalism is proof that Russophobia wins even in the originally Russian-speaking and Russian country, which Ukraine was in 1991. And Zelensky certainly will not be an exception among the enemies of Russia, who came to power in Ukraine.


– Are the parties to come to a mutual compromise? Can Zelensky teach the “militant Ukrainian political class”?


– So far Zelensky absolutely does not justify Manilov’s hopes of Russian liberals. His hostile rhetoric does not leave a gap for any conciliatory gestures and steps on the part of Russia. This is absolutely explainable if you remember how long Poroshenko’s illusions about relatively peaceful aspirations in Russia were, how long they tried to close their eyes to his Russophobic attacks. Now the Russian government, I think, does not want to fall into such a stupid situation, and will not take the first steps.


Zelensky will not only not tame the “militant Ukrainian political class,” but will also try to lead him, outweighing Poroshenko in the accusations of Russia.


  • Is it possible to solve the Donbass conflict according to Stankevich’s prescription? After all, this recipe, in fact, does not take into account the opinion of Donbass itself, focusing only on the search for a compromise between Moscow and Kiev.


– The recipes of Stankevich mean the surrender of Donbass, its population and political leadership. Notice, Zelensky did not speak about the discriminatory law on total Ukrainization, he did not speak about in defense of the civilians of Donbass suffering from war. While he is talking “about the heroes of the ATO,” about “protecting our borders from the aggressor,” about “strengthening sanctions against Russia,” it is impossible to expect that his plans for a peaceful settlement of the war in Donbass include the protection of Russian rights in this region.


His main thesis “to crush Russia with the hands of Western partners” is absolutely no different from the program of Peter Poroshenko, and that is why I hope that the Donbass will receive the support of Russia for its further integration with Russia, and not for its return to the nationalist Ukraine.


– It is unlikely that the task was initially set to bring Zelensky to the presidency of the country, – continues the theme of political scientist Alexander Dudchak.


– But this is a manifestation of system work, when all the emerging opportunities are used, for which, in turn, prerequisites are created. Fortunately, not everything is predetermined in advance, and even the all-powerful United States is far from omnipotent, and the story is non-linear.


There have been cases in history when, during wars, an imitation of the offensive was only to divert the forces of the enemy, but as a result it became the main thrust because of the success that surpassed expectations. Zelensky is not the only “original” project. There is also a political “canned” one – Vakarchuk, who was even specially trained for political activities in one of the specialized US educational institutions. Here, his time is coming.


Sole power in the country is quickly concentrated in the hands of a political amateur.

Yes, it can be said that Zelensky’s path to the presidency is a phenomenon that should be taken into account and considered as an effective polytechnology used previously in other countries. It will be used in the future. Who can compare Zelensky?


It is hardly appropriate to compare with Trump or Macron. There is more in common with Grillo and Chaputova. But this is very conditional …


Eloquence, quick reaction, sense of humor and clarity of thought will never be a hindrance to any politician. These qualities are often populist. However, one should not argue that if a politician is witty, then he is necessarily a populist. There have been cases in history when an effective politician, resourceful and eloquent, who achieved significant results as the leader of a state, was forced to resign under the pressure of “popular masses” as a result of aggressive information campaigns organized through the media. So it was with de Gaulle, and, especially, with Gaddafi …


– And the chances of resolving the conflict in the Donbass there?


  • Russia has neither the desire nor the need to attack Ukraine. Ukraine also has no desire to attack, even the insane, and even more so there are no resources for this. Of course, there is a chance for peace. And it is described in the Minsk agreements. There is no need to invent something extra.


– Stankevich assigns Zelensky year. Is it enough?


  • The problem is multifaceted, too much firewood has broken this power in five years. But who said that Zelensky will seek to solve these problems and “form a new trend”? No need to attribute Zelensky qualities and aspirations, the presence of which he has not showed.

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