NewsPutin challenges Zelensky's legitimacy amid war in Ukraine

Putin challenges Zelensky's legitimacy amid war in Ukraine

Putin ready to negotiate with Kyiv. But not with Zelensky.
Putin ready to negotiate with Kyiv. But not with Zelensky.
Images source: © East News | Yury Kochetkov

6:17 AM EDT, May 29, 2024

Russian dictator Vladimir Putin said the Verkhovna Rada and its speaker remain the only legitimate authorities in Ukraine. For the second time in the past ten days, he questioned the legitimacy of President Volodymyr Zelensky. Kyiv has already responded to Putin's words.

According to Putin, this is a "preliminary analysis" of Ukrainian legislation, which his "colleagues" informed him about.

Putin wants to talk to Stefanchuk

Putin said in Tashkent after a visit to Uzbekistan that martial law in Ukraine allows for the postponement of presidential elections but not for the extension of the current president's powers. At the same time, according to Putin, when the current president's term expires during martial law, "it means that the country’s representative body holds all basic levers of power."

Ruslan Stefanchuk is the chairman of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine. The deputy has already responded to Putin's words. He emphasized that "Volodymyr Zelensky remains and will remain Ukraine's president until the end of martial law."

"I would recommend that inquisitive readers read the text of our Constitution not selectively and pay attention to Article 108, paragraph 1: 'The President of Ukraine shall exercise his/her powers until the newly elected President of Ukraine takes office'. In democratic societies, this is called the continuity of power," Stefanchuk wrote on social media.

He called Russian narratives about Zelensky's illegality "predictable" and "meaningless."

Previously, Putin said that Zelensky's legitimacy as President of Ukraine has ended and that, therefore, it is not a trivial question as to whom to negotiate with.

Putin declared on Tuesday that Russia does not oppose the very negotiations. Interfax agency reported, quoting him, that they would find a solution for Ukraine if Ukraine were now led by people guided by national interests and not by the interests of their masters in Europe or abroad.

Does Putin want to freeze the war?

Sources close to the Kremlin told Reuters that Putin has again proposed "freezing" the war in Ukraine on the condition of retaining control over the already conquered territories. According to the agency's interlocutors, Putin understands that further offensives would require repeating the mass mobilization, whose first wave – in the fall of 2022 – lowered the government's ratings and caused hundreds of thousands of Russians to flee abroad.

The Kremlin made a similar proposal at the end of last year, but the idea was rejected after negotiations at the mediator level. The United States refused to discuss a truce in February without Kyiv's participation.

However, since then, the situation on the front line has become more complicated for the Armed Forces of Ukraine, which have been left without Western aid and are forced to yield territories in Donbas and the Kharkiv region to the Russians. Putin expects his army to continue slowly advancing into Ukraine. The current area under Moscow's control is about 7 percent. As a result, according to Reuters sources, the Kremlin hopes that the peace proposal will be presented by the President of Ukraine himself.

May 20 was formally the "last day" of President Volodymyr Zelensky's term. Earlier, the BBC warned that Russia would want to exploit the expiration of Zelensky's mandate. The Kremlin has already started a disinformation operation with a post by Dmitry Medvedev.

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