By: Vishal Singh
Ukraine’s domestic affair: New tensions have surfaced in the face of Ukraine. This time, it’s internal, the rift between Voldomyr Zelensky and the Ukrainian chief of army, Valery Zaluzhny. Valery’s opinion was published in ‘The Economist,’ which further stirred the rift and made it evident that something wasn’t right. The General said, “Stalemate has ensued in the war with Russia.” The mud and the rain in this autumn season have stopped the advances of both the forces on each side. No maneuver is possible, and drone reconnaissance and other technologies have made mechanized assaults by either side impossible. Zelensky advised the General to remain confined to the defence area, to keep its focus on winning this war, and to not indulge in public affairs outside his domain. There’s some rationality and logic behind Zelensky’s remark. Why would the European Union and the USA sanction US$ 57 and US$ 61 billion dollars respectively, for Ukraine in a stalemate situation? Why would they bet on the losing side?
Can Valery be the next Prigozhin?
Two grey areas which strengthen the claims of internal domestic differences are:
- The President’s office replaced one of his deputies, the head of special operations forces, Gen Viktor Khorenko. President Zelensky had ordered regional governors to stop all communication with the Ukrainian chief of army, Gen Valery Zaluzhny. Under Ukraine’s Constitution, the President is empowered to appoint and dismiss the head of the special forces. Though the position is directly subordinate to the commander-in-chief, the firing appeared to undercut General Zaluzhny’s authority.
- An American investigative journalist and political writer, Seymour Hersh, reported ongoing private talks between Ukrainian and Russian generals. The article says that the commanders of Ukraine’s and Russia’s armed forces, Valery Zaluzhny and Valery Gerasimov, are holding secret negotiations to end the war in eastern Ukraine. The talks are backed by the US and not influenced by the political leaders of both countries. Seymour further writes that the possible agreement between the generals involves recognizing Crimea as part of Russia and holding elections in the regions that joined Russia after the war, the Luhansk and the Donetsk region. In return, Russia would allow Ukraine to join NATO, but with conditions that NATO would not deploy troops or offensive weapons in Ukraine.
In a recent poll conducted by the Kyiv International Institute of Sociology, 58.6% disapproved, and only 26.4% approved the activities and decisions of their President. The approval rating for Zelensky has gone down. The idea of a unilateral deal is impossible because the resources of various other countries are involved. Zelensky is under no circumstances going to give up.
The support is waning. Ukraine’s defence and counter-retaliation solely depend on funds and weapons supplied by Western powers. But its stockpile is drying up. The geopolitical focus has shifted towards Israel- Hamas.
Europe’s differences and dilemma: Hungary’s PM Viktor Orban has led arguments against the package. He has demanded that the council should remove opening talks about Ukraine’s accession to the EU from the agenda for the December 14-15 European Council summit. He repeatedly emphasizes that “this is not our war” and says it is a “dispute that the relevant parties should settle among themselves.”
Geert Wilders, a far-right politician who has won the presidential election of the Netherlands, stands in the way of giving its support to Ukraine. He has pushed for the opinion that it is America’s interest that Europe is serving by perceiving Russia as a threat. Wilder boycotted Zelensky’s speech in the Dutch parliament in May 2023. According to Wilders, Dutch supplies are limited, so military aid to Ukraine should end.
USA’s internal politics
A recent vote for the aid package of US$ 61 billion to Ukraine has been turned down by the Republicans over demands for stricter immigration controls. The funds allocated to Ukraine will likely run out by the end of the year. Zelensky said his army needed to receive more weaponry to advance. General Zaluzhny’s conclusion could further discourage some allies from sustaining their military aid. For Zelensky, he has to work on his approval rating and put an end to the rising internal disputes.
Russia’s masterstroke in West Asia is another challenge for Ukraine
The reports show how the Wagner group is supporting Hezbollah in Lebanon against Israel. If the war spreads in West Asia, it would be difficult for the USA to manage and fund. All these signs do not bode well for President Zelensky. Before being isolated and completely sidelined, he must recall General Zaluzhny and constructively build an atmosphere of resilient negotiations. These issues have led to a growing worry in Ukraine that this tendency could spread throughout the European Union. Therefore, Ukraine’s Struggle for Survival has several challenges ahead of them. Domestic Rifts, European Divisions, American Politics and spreading West Asia conflict.