Russia is poised to take advantage of political splits in Ukraine

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AOffer N He should have been the deputy of the Ministry of Culture. Anton Drobovich had a background as head of the National Memory Institute of Ukraine. And for the past several months, he has been fighting in the most dangerous operations in Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia region, either during a counter-offensive operation or recovering from serious injuries in the hospital. Mr Drobovych did not fully accept the idea; But his understanding of the political situation in Kiev was enough to sow suspicion. Can it survive a resurgence of ideological squabbles, briefings and bureaucratic battles? No, he decided to go back to the assault forces unit. I decided I had more important work on the front line.

Mr. Droboych is one of a growing number of Ukrainians who walk between two increasingly divergent worlds: the grim reality. trench warfare; And the most corrupt political battlefield ever in Kiev. In the year In February 2022, competitive politics was put to sleep when Russia launched its invasion. He returned later that year as the existential threat to Ukraine receded. Yaroslav Zhelezhnyak, opponent MPHe says there is still “broad agreement” on basic national security issues. But popular MP Jostling within the president’s party has already destabilized Ukraine. Mistakes are being made “on all sides.” And presidential attempts to “moderate decision-making” and “shut down opposition” are having the opposite effect.

Not only along political lines, but more importantly, conflicts have arisen between the military and the political leadership. Relations between President Volodymyr Zelensky and Commander-in-Chief Valery Zaluzhny are understood to be dire. Differences in opinion were first reported in the summer of last year. The latest candidate Interview as if Economist With the general, he brought that conflict into the open, where he described the war in Ukraine as reaching its peak. Mr. Zelensky publicly rebuked the general for the headlines. In a later interview, Mr Zaluzzini appeared to warn them to stick to military matters rather than “doing politics”.

A senior government source suggested that the apparent conflict within the leadership “predictably” stalled the counter-attack “without going to plan”. The official said Mr. Zaluzzini was unwise to oppose the president’s more flamboyant populist stance, but few in the government could argue with his strong conclusion. The blame game is now going on as to who is responsible for the failure. “The politicians are saying that their generals are Soviet-trained fighters. The generals are saying that politicians are interfering. Victory has many fathers, but no one wants to raise a misunderstanding.

Another thing in the game is a reported criminal investigation into the defense of southern Ukraine. In the year It was here that in February and March 2022, Russian forces achieved a quick and crucial victory in a matter of weeks, creating a new land corridor to Crimea. The Ukrainian turncoat helped the advance. Bridges are not designed as intended. The army was not well prepared. Mr. Zaluzhny, some reports say, is currently only named as a witness to be tested; But that could turn into something more serious. According to his associates, the possibility of criminal charges is designed to make him stand up. His media involvement can be seen as an insurance policy, a general staff source suggests.

Mr. Zaluzny has never declared any political ambitions, and his few steps into the political arena have been foolhardy. But that doesn’t mean it poses no threat to Mr. Zelensky. The president, as recently as the comedian of 2019, knows how quickly Ukrainian society breaks its leaders. Internal selection is shown in Economist The president, who was once praised for his role in protecting the country, has been threatened by corruption scandals in his government and the direction of the country. The figures from mid-November show that confidence in the president has fallen to +32%, which is still less than half of the respected General Mr. Zaluzny (+70%). Ukrainian spy Kyrylo Budanov has a better rating than the president (+45%).

Similar polls suggest Mr Zelensky risks losing the presidential election if he goes head-to-head with the commander-in-chief. Ukrainian society does not accept any unchallenged challenge. For now, eight out of ten Ukrainians are opposed to the idea of ​​holding elections, which will be held as early as next March. The president has cited martial law and rejected it. But the ratings downgrade may convince him to change his mind. If the election does not take place, Russian propaganda will undoubtedly make hay.

Ukrainian intelligence sources say Russia is already trying to exploit its interests and tensions. HUR spokesman Andriy Chernyk presented evidence of new Russian strategies for various constituencies: to mobilize support in Russia; Another to undermine confidence in the West; And the third to highlight grievances in Ukraine. There is a separate disinformation campaign for the Ukrainian military, with in-depth fake videos of commanders at various levels seemingly encouraging their subordinates to surrender. “Russia has not been able to do what they should have done on the battlefield, but here they are achieving real success.”

According to a senior government source, it is because of the material that Russian propaganda plays. He also admitted that there was corruption. Management is often ineffective. Ukraine has not put its economy on an adequate war footing. But only Russia stands to gain if the president is forced out. “Some of our politicians are not concerned enough about the Russian threat; And it pisses me off too. They think they can challenge for power, destroy Zelensky, and it won’t work. Since the start of the war, the security service has been able to effectively eliminate most Russian influence, he said. The most effective lifters were now “Ukrainians themselves”.

On the front line, Russia is having a relatively good time of war. They are meeting their labor needs by recruiting from the poor and from prisons. A convicted cannibal was recently paroled for fighting. Ukraine, on the other hand, is struggling to mobilize from the general population. Army chiefs are recruiting at a rate that covers natural losses at the front. But while most of the recruits at the start of the war knew what they were fighting for, few of the new recruits were willing, and filling the recruitment quota was becoming increasingly difficult. Political tensions cannot help that process.

Doubts about the direction of the war, both at home and abroad, are starting to catch up with soldiers on the front lines. At least they don’t seem to have changed behavior or morals in any way yet. “Whether Zaluzini quarreled with Zelensky or not, the people who were burned could not give a damn,” said one commander. Mr. Drobovich agrees. When discussing with his comrades at the front, no one talks about the need to return to Kiev to “correct politics”. The conversation is just about staying alive. For this group of Ukrainians, there is no doubt that the enemy can still cause danger. “Russia is asking a simple question about us: life or death.” Regardless of whether it happens in Kiev or Washington, it will keep us fighting.

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