In a video address late Monday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy made a significant announcement, ruling out the possibility of holding a presidential election in the spring and urging his villagers to prioritize unity and focus all their resources on the ongoing battle against Russia.
Zelenskyy’s statement comes in response to increasing discussions regarding the potential for a presidential election in March.
The Ukrainian president, elected to a five-year term in March 2019, had previously avoided giving a definitive stance. His associates had mentioned that he was considering various possibilities.
However, Zelenskyy’s tone was evident in his address, stating, “Now, in wartime, when there are so many challenges, it is irresponsible to throw the topic of elections into society in a lighthearted and playful way.” He emphasized the need to halt divisive political discussions, saying, “The waves of any politically divisive things must stop.”
He went on to assert, “We must realize that now is the time of defense, the time of the battle that determines the fate of the state and people, not the time of manipulations, which only Russia expects from Ukraine.” Zelenskyy firmly believes that “now is not the right time for elections.”
Ukrainian law prohibits elections during martial law, which has been in effect since Russia’s invasion in February 2022. Therefore, if Ukraine decided to conduct a presidential vote, it would necessitate an amendment to the law.
President Zelenskyy Postpones Election
In addition to addressing the election issue, Zelenskyy strongly emphasized the importance of national unity and the need for the Ukrainian people to stand together during these trying times.
He warned against political rifts and divisions, stating, “We need to pull ourselves together, avoid unwinding and splitting up into disputes or other priorities.”
Zelenskyy stressed that Ukraine’s path to victory lies in unity and concerted efforts rather than political maneuvers and personal interests. He underlined, “Ukraine’s victory will come if we all focus on it, not on politicking or searching for some personal interest or disagreements that will do nothing for the country, defense, and our advancement.”
The announcement from Zelenskyy came amidst a tragic incident involving a top aide to his military commander, Gen. Valerii Zaluzhnyi. Major Hennadii Chastiakov lost his life when a grenade, presented as a gift for his 39th birthday, accidentally exploded. The incident also resulted in severe injuries to his 13-year-old son.
While some initially suspected a targeted attack, Interior Minister Ihor Klymenko clarified that Chastiakov’s death was a tragic accident. A colleague had gifted him six new grenades, which he was demonstrating to his family at home when the tragedy occurred.
This unfortunate incident marked the second fatal tragedy in less than a week for Ukraine’s military.
Just days prior, a Ukrainian brigade holding a ceremony to honor troops in Zaporizhzhia was struck by a Russian missile, resulting in the deaths of 19 soldiers. This attack was one of the deadliest single incidents reported by Ukrainian forces.
The commander of the 128th Separate Mountain Assault Brigade, Dmytro Lysiuk, has been suspended as authorities investigate the decision to hold the ceremony near the front line, making it vulnerable to Russian reconnaissance drones.
Zelenskyy assured that those responsible for any safety violations would be held accountable.
As Ukraine continues to face immense challenges in the ongoing conflict with Russia, President Zelenskyy’s call for unity and his decision to postpone the presidential election underscore the gravity of the situation and the necessity for a concerted national effort to defend the state and its people.