Europe

As the crisis with Russia worsens, Ukraine’s president’s popularity plummets.

Volodymyr Zelenskyy, a political novice running for president of Ukraine, promised to reach out to Russia-backed rebels fighting Ukrainian soldiers in the east and make progress toward settling the crisis. His resounding victory in 2019 was aided by the assurances.

But, after 212 years in power, Zelenskyy is seeing his once-enormous popularity dwindle as Ukraine faces a Russian invasion that many fear may take not only the separatist regions but also the rest of the country.

To make matters worse, the incumbent, who Zelenskyy beat in 2019, has brazenly returned to the nation to face treason charges and stir up opposition.

Meanwhile, analysts believe that Moscow is attempting to increase support among pro-Russia lawmakers in Ukraine, and that Russian military stationed near the country’s border are partially intended to destabilize the country’s politics.

Last month, Britain’s intelligence services said that Russia was attempting to destabilize Zelenskyy’s government and replace him with the leader of a tiny party opposed to Ukraine’s NATO and European Union objectives.

On Sunday, Zelenskyy attempted to calm the political volatility by downplaying the United States’ increased warnings about the imminent threat of a Russian invasion.

“We are aware of all the dangers,” Zelenskyy stated, adding that anyone with “knowledge indicating a 100% certain invasion, beginning on the 16th,” should come forward.

The maneuverings and public outrage in Ukraine pose a serious challenge for a country where democracy has been shambolic for decades.

Ukraine has seen two major upheavals in the last 20 years: one that forced a rerun of a rigged presidential election, and the other that forced the Kremlin-friendly president to flee the country in 2014.

Fistfights have erupted in the House of Commons. Political alliances change frequently, and parties change their names.

“Destabilization within our state is the largest concern for Ukraine and the biggest risk for our state’s sovereignty,” Zelenskyy warned earlier this month.

Ukrainians, on the other hand, have little faith in Zelenskyy’s ability to maintain peace. Only 30% of Ukrainians want Zelenskyy to run for a second term, according to a January study conducted by the Kyiv International Institute of Sociology, and even fewer — 23% — would vote for him.

His support is dwindling because to the ongoing fighting in the rebel east and the possibility of a full-scale war.

“Zelenskyy pledged to halt the war and fight corruption, but he didn’t,” Anatoly Rudenko, a 48-year-old Kyiv taxi driver, said. “Prices are rising, corruption is still a problem, and we’ve started to address it.”

“The miracle did not materialize. “The situation is only getting worse,” said economist Tatyana Shmeleva, 54.

Zelenskyy rose to prominence in Ukraine as a comedy actor who played a teacher who mistakenly became president after screaming against corruption on television. According to one commentator, he made a mistake as president by following a similar route.

“Zelenskyy made a mistake by confronting all of Ukraine’s oligarchs at the same time, who dominate the country’s key political forces, parties, and television stations. “This is a very dangerous, extremely perilous game,” said Vladimir Fesenko, the Penta analytical center’s director.

Petro Poroshenko, the confectionery tycoon who preceded Zelenskyy as president and now faces treason charges for allegedly facilitating coal sales that financed the eastern rebels; industrialist Rinat Akhmetov, from Ukraine’s east, who controls an opposition faction; and Viktor Medvedchuk, the country’s most prominent pro-Russia politician, whose three TV stations have been blocked for allegedly spreading misinformation and who is currently facing treason charges

These oligarchs are not united – Medvedchuk and Akhmetov are linked to opposing political parties, while Poroshenko’s administration was defined by strong anti-Russia sentiment. Many analysts feel, however, that Moscow is attempting to capitalize on any resistance to Zelenskyy.

 

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