Political activity, political impact of social problems and war effects (03.09-13.09 )
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There have been clear signs of inability of Ukrainian army to continue the offensive operations without a prompt reinforcement.
Secretary of the National Security and Defence Council of Ukraine Oleksiy Danilov announced that all men who were recognized as having limited fitness for military service will be re-examined and then enlisted if their condition is not recognized as critical. https://focus.ua/uk/voennye-novosti/589745-zakonodatelnye-izmeneniya-danilov-anonsiroval-mobilizaciyu-ogranichenno-godnyh-ukraincev
All decisions of military medical commissions since February 24, 2022 are going to be reviewed and reconsidered. https://gordonua.com/ukr/news/war/imena-ukhiljantiv-i-likariv-jaki-falsifikuvali-dovidki-vijskovo-likarskikh-komisij-budut-vidomi-za-dva-tri-tizhni-danilov-1679433.html
Head of the “Servant of the People” parliamentary faction David Arakhamia revealed the the government plans to request the extradition of male refugees of military draft age from the EU countries if they are suspected of forging certificates of unfitness for service due to health conditions. https://www.dw.com/ru/dva-il76-pod-pskovom-byli-unictozeny-ese-dva-povrezdeny/live-66638020#liveblog-post-66689898
It has been reported that the Polish Border Guard has already started to expel Ukrainian citizens upon request of Ukrainian law-enforcement agencies. Similar procedures can be used for the deportation of possible conscripts. According to unofficial estimation of the Polish Border Guard, approximately 80,000 Ukrainian men of military draft age remain in Poland. https://www.rp.pl/swiat/art39049061-polska-zaczela-wydawac-ukrainie-jej-obywateli-ktorzy-trudnia-sie-przemytem-ludzi
From October 1, female medical doctors, nurses, midwives, dentists, pharmacists between the ages of 18 and 60 will be obliged to register for military service. https://www.slovoidilo.ua/2023/09/08/infografika/bezpeka/vijskovyj-oblik-zhinok-xto-navishho-maye-jty-tczk-zhovtnya
Such measures might help to mobilize the required reinforcement, but the motivation of these conscripts can be expected to be extremely law. The government keeps on wasting away human lives, material resources and military equipment because it cannot cease offensive actions without reaching significant success due to the political repercussions.
In order to diminish war-weariness of the Ukrainian society and avoid public criticism for the lack of important military achievements, the government is trying to imitate adopting a new strategy or putting in charge of military operations more capable and effective persons.
These intentions of the government can be exploited by political groups connected with high-ranking officials in order to increase their influence. The resignation the Minister of Defence can be regarded as an example of the political struggle, triggered by government’s desire to obtain a public approval for the continuation of the offensive actions.
Minister of Defense of Ukraine Oleksiy Reznikov has written a resignation letter and has been replaced by Rustem Umerov who held an office of the Chairman of the State Property Fund of Ukraine.
Umerov was elected to the Parliament as a representative of the “Holos” ( the “Voice”) party which remains the minor ally of Zelensky’s “Servant of the People”. It should be noted that the influential Deputy Chairman of the deputy Holos’ deputy faction Yaroslav Zheleznyak expressed confidence that Reznikov is going to be appointed as an ambassador to the UK. https://www.obozrevatel.com/ukr/politics-news/reznikov-podav-zayavu-pro-vidstavku-do-verhovnoi-radi-dokument.htm?utm_source=wpush&utm_medium=push&utm_campaign=webpush
Though there has been no sign so far that such an offer is going to be made and accepted, Zheleznyak’s remark should be regarded as a an attempt to submit a compensation to Reznikov himself and to the political group he belongs to.
Reznikov is considered to be a close associate of Andriy Yermak, the head of the president’s office and one of the most influential Ukraine’s politicians. https://carnegieendowment.org/politika/88982 There were also suggestion that the the post of Defence Minister would be offered to Minister of Infrastructure Oleksandr Kubrakov, who is also considered to be a member of Yermak’s group. Because it didn’t happen, its positions have obviously become weaker.
The strengthening of the political group connected with “Holos” party appears to be inevitable in the current circumstances, when Zelensky needs the US administration to increase its support of Ukraine’s military efforts, despite the lack of chances for a decisive success. Some members of “Holos” group, including Umerov, have strong personal connections with US politicians and experts. Besides, it is important for Zelensky to demonstrate that post of Defence Minister was given to the most competent person, who never belonged to president’s inner circle.
In his remark about Umerov’s appointment Zelensky praised him as person who “can reboot the Ministry of Defence”. https://www.president.gov.ua/news/rezultati-ce-te-sho-zaraz-neobhidno-ukrayini-vid-usih-na-vsi-85457
Though Reznikov was not criticized by the president directly, he hinted on his discontent with the current state of affairs. There were also publications in several popular Ukrainian media, in which it was insinuated that Reznikov’s resignation related to with the accusations of corruption made against the former Defence Minister by Ukrainian investigative journalist Mykhailo Tkach. The Ukrainian government did not do anything either to dispel or confirm these rumors. https://wiadomosci.wp.pl/rewolucyjne-zmiany-w-ukrainie-zelenski-odwoluje-reznikowa-6937674212510336a?utm_medium=push&utm_source=pushpushgo&utm_campaign=WPWiadomosci-push&utm_content=64f4da05eb3ddc271b2198b4
The Ukrainian government is trying to create an impression that all his actions are aimed at overcoming corruption and fighting the influence of oligarchs.
In one of his latest statements, Zelensky pointed out that “those who plundered Ukraine and put themselves above the law and any rules” will not be able to go on with theor habitual practice. https://www.president.gov.ua/news/ciyeyi-suboti-svij-den-vidznachayut-tri-mista-bez-yakih-ne-u-85345
This message seems to be targeted primarily on the US political circles and the arrest of Igor Kolomoisky has demonstrated the president’s desire to show commitment to this idea. Kolomoisky was accused by the US authorities in purchasing $60 million worth real estate in the United States with the illegally obtained money. In March 2021, the United States imposed sanctions against Kolomoisky and his close associates.
So the prosecution of Kilimoisky by the Ukrainian law-enforcement authorities seems to be an important condition of obtaining an increased support from the US administration. It should be noted that Kolomoisky was arrested under the suspicions, raised by SBU (Security Service of Ukraine), which is controlled by the president. It is considered to be an attempt to confirm the suggestion to equate corruption with high treason in wartime and the transfer right to investigate corruption from NABU (the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine) to the SBU. https://www.bbc.com/russian/articles/ce9n6q5glvyo
NABU, which operates with the American assistance, was was also going to bring official suspicion against Kolomoisky on September 7, but was outstripped by SBU. https://forbes.ua/money/pogani-spravi-eksmilyardera-igor-kolomoyskiy-otrimav-pershu-pidozru-odrazu-pislya-naradi-silovikiv-u-ofisi-zelenskogo-forbes-diznavsya-detali-rozsliduvannya-shchodo-biznesmena-02092023-15778
The arrest of Kolomoisky was made on the next day after the US Departments of State issued a statement in which Ukraine’s law-enforcement agencies, which are managed with the US assistance, Specialized Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office (SAPO), National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine (NABU), and High Anti-Corruption Court in Washington, – were praised for their commitment to tackling corruption. It was also reported that the heads of these agencies had meetings with high-ranking US officials concerning the plans of anti-corruption reforms. https://www.state.gov/u-s-government-meetings-with-leaders-of-ukraines-anti-corruption-institutions/
The arrest of Kolomoisky was made in advance of visit of the US Secretary of State to Kyiv. During his visit Secretary Blinken announced new assistance package with the amount of more than $1 billion. https://www.state.gov/secretary-antony-j-blinken-and-ukrainian-foreign-minister-dmytro-kuleba-at-a-joint-press-availability-4/
At the same time, despite the intentions to make a good impression on the US administration, the Ukrainian officials continue to reject the idea of the parliamentary election. Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine Oleksiy Danilov stated that while the fighting is going on, it is impossible to organize the electoral process and as soon as the agitators “enter the trenches”, Ukrainian troops will be defeated. https://nbnews.com.ua/politika/2023/09/07/kak-tolko-agitatory-zaidut-v-okopy/
Advisor to the Head of the Office of the President of Ukraine Mykhailo Podolyak stated that the elections in wartime can be held only after strengthening Ukraine’s air defence systems to ensure the safety during voting process. https://newsukraine.rbc.ua/news/zelenskyy-linked-conducting-of-elections-1693610731.html
At the same time, Zelensky said that Kyiv is “ready” to organise wartime elections, despite the challenges that are going to be posed by the ongoing war. https://www.france24.com/en/europe/20230908-%F0%9F%94%B4-live-russia-holds-elections-in-occupied-ukrainian-regions
The viewpoint of the president seems to have been influenced by pressure from the demands of some Western politicians, including US Senator Lindsey Graham, who insist on holding elections in 2024, despite the imposition of martial law.
But despite this reaction to the foreign pressure, Ukrainian government once again has shown its inability to deal with the issues related to interaction with the countries with different approach to the conflict. Officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs have publicly criticized the New Delhi G20 Leaders’ Declaration for the lack of condemnation of Russia as an aggressor. https://www.obozrevatel.com/ukr/politics-news/nemae-chim-pishatisya-v-mzs-ukraini-rozcharovani-deklaratsieyu-g20-i-pidkazali-kraschi-formulyuvannya-foto.htm?utm_source=wpush&utm_medium=push&utm_campaign=
The government officials failed to realize that the New Delhi Declaration contains some points favorable for Ukraine, like upholding the principles of territorial integrity and sovereignty, and demands to recommence the Black Sea Initiative. https://www.g20.org/content/dam/gtwenty/gtwenty_new/document/G20-New-Delhi-Leaders-Declaration.pdf
Forecasts for potential development of current trends:
- The continuation of offensive operations will increase the risk of exhaustion of Ukrainian troops and war-weariness of the Ukrainian society. The reinforcement will not be able to overcome negative tendencies and will only increase social and economic turmoil. There is a high risk that the troops will not be able withstand probable Russian counteroffensive.
- The Ukrainian government may succumb to foreign pressure aimed at preserving democratic procedures and conducting wartime elections. If the pressure is increased and European institutions act more decisively, the destruction of Ukrainian political democracy may be deferred.
- The Ukrainian government has proved to be unable to establish interactions with the countries of the Global South, and this failure can pose a problem for the leading EU countries.
Recommendations for the European institutions and organizations:
- The Ukrainian government should be advised on its relations with the Global South countries. A change of approach of the Ukrainian government to its communication with the Global South is required for preventing the repercussions of the Ukrainian conduct for the EU.
- The EU political structures should express their support to the idea of organizing wartime elections and make efforts to overcome hidden resistance of the Ukrainian government to the restoration of democratic processes.