NewsZelensky's term end nears: Potential Russian maneuvers ahead

Zelensky's term end nears: Potential Russian maneuvers ahead

End of Zelensky's term. Will the Russians take advantage of the situation?
End of Zelensky's term. Will the Russians take advantage of the situation?
Images source: © East News

12:46 PM EDT, May 18, 2024

Volodymyr Zelensky's term as president is coming to an end, raising questions about how Russia might exploit this situation in Ukraine for its own purposes. In an interview with Wirtualna Polska, Gen. Waldemar Skrzypczak, former commander of the land forces, commented on the matter.

The term of the president of Ukraine lasts five years. The Ukrainian constitution indicates that the president holds office until the next head of state is elected and inaugurated. However, regulations directly prohibit holding elections to the Supreme Council during martial law. There is no information about a ban on organizing presidential elections.

The five-year term of Volodymyr Zelensky is set to end on May 20, 2024. This means that on May 21, according to the constitution, he should resign and transfer his powers to the Marshal of the Supreme Council.

"Zelensky's mandate will expire, but it does not seem he will resign. There are no signs that an election campaign is being conducted in Ukraine, and there can be no interruption. Additionally, no competitors could challenge him," said Gen. Waldemar Skrzypczak in an interview with Wirtualna Polska.

The former commander of the land forces noted that "the war situation will probably give Zelensky a clause to remain in office as president."

The end of Zelensky's term. Will the Russians exploit the situation?

The military official emphasized that although Russia attacked Ukraine, the Kremlin portrays and will continue to portray Zelensky as responsible for the conflict. "The Russians consider Zelensky their greatest enemy because he was the leader who opposed their aggression and political changes in Kyiv. In the eyes of the Russians, he is the main perpetrator of what is happening," he assessed.

"The Russians will devalue Zelensky, slander, and undermine his credibility. They will make him out to be a usurper who does not want to relinquish power because he lacks both public and military trust. The fact is that his trust has significantly declined, especially among soldiers. The Russians will treat him as persona non grata in Ukraine—the one Ukrainians do not want," he argued.

The expert expects that the Russian propaganda machine will exploit this situation. The actions will be aimed at "undermining his position as the leader of the Ukrainian nation." He added, "If they do this openly, the result will likely be the opposite. They will probably mobilize Ukrainians again to support Zelensky. Surely, at this moment, the Kremlin is considering what strategy to adopt."

Gen. Skrzypczak is sure that the Kremlin's version will be accepted by Russian citizens, to whom this propaganda is primarily directed: "They will treat Zelensky as the nation's enemy. In the Russian narrative, he is not referred to as a murderer, but it is clear that in this propaganda aimed at Russians, he is treated this way."

The former commander of the land forces also reminded us that the Ukrainian president explicitly declared that he did not intend to negotiate with Moscow and would not give up the fight for temporarily occupied territories. "The Russians view Zelensky as the main obstacle preventing the Kremlin from conducting talks on its terms. He clearly stated that he would not agree to the loss of territories. And this is the Kremlin's pain point," he concluded.

Zelensky's mandate will expire. Is the Kremlin already preparing?

According to the general, "the fundamental issue now is what decision Zelensky will make when his term expires." He said, "He will have to say something. He cannot go about his daily business pretending nothing happened. Before May 20, he must articulate his position and indicate whether he will remain president or announce elections. In my opinion, the second option is impossible."

In his view, for Western countries, Zelensky's remaining in office "is acceptable" because now any change and turmoil in Kyiv could severely threaten the state.

Moreover, according to the expert, Moscow may launch a massive attack on Ukraine on May 20 and 21 "on the occasion of the end of Zelensky's term." He said, "This cannot be ruled out. They may want to create fireworks to mark the end—in their view—of a bad presidency. But this will change nothing," summarized the general.

Related content