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1 Apr, 2019 16:44

Neither Poroshenko nor Zelensky will (or can) fix ties with Russia – journalist to RT

Neither Poroshenko nor Zelensky will (or can) fix ties with Russia – journalist to RT

Relations between Moscow and Kiev won't improve beyond 2019 as both Ukrainian presidential rivals, Poroshenko and Zelensky, are either unwilling or unable to do so, journalist Bryan MacDonald told RT, predicting a "nasty" runoff.

With the majority of the weekend's first-round results counted, Volodymyr Zelensky, a stand-up comedian who plays an anti-establishment president in his own TV show, took a decisive lead, having scored just over 30 percent of the votes. The big win puts him ahead of the sitting president Petro Poroshenko, who is on just around 16 percent as of late Monday. 

Also on rt.com Laugh all you like at Ukraine’s Volodymyr Zelensky - but your country’s next leader might be a comic

Now, it's been officially announced that Poroshenko and Zelensky will face each other in a runoff on April 21. And a big question remaining is whether Zelensky will indeed unseat the incumbent leader… and if so, will there be a change in ties between Kiev and Moscow. Fixing the strained relations could prove a more than challenging task in the near future, according to RT columnist Bryan MacDonald.

As long as Poroshenko is there, relations with Russia will just not improve at all… as he is effectively a Western puppet.

He was helped into power by the US in the aftermath of the 2013 anti-government uprising, and while "he does display degrees of independence," the current Ukrainian leader still went along with many of the proposals by the West, MacDonald noted. That included a rise in gas prices "which the IMF [International Monetary Fund] insisted upon."

So, should Poroshenko keep his post, the nearest possible date for a proper reconciliation with Russia could come only in five years' time, after his second term as president expires. The West and people in Ukraine will simply get "tired" of Poroshenko running the country into a "dead end" and the whole "Maidan project." Then, there is a possibility that "a more conciliatory leader with a proper mandate can be elected that can do a deal with Russia."

But as of now, "realistically speaking, the only prospect [to fix the strained relations] is Zelensky." However, one shouldn't set their hopes high for the political newcomer either, as he has limited room to maneuver and will likely have "no mandate" to clinch any meaningful agreement with Russia, the journalist noted.

With Zelensky, anything could happen. He could try to make a deal and then he might not be politically powerful enough in Kiev.

The problem here is that "any deals would have to go through the Rada [the Ukrainian Parliament], which he would not control." Furthermore, in order to keep power, Zelensky would have to seek cooperation with various politicians, MacDonald says. That could see the current interior minister, Arsen Avakov, who is "strongly hostile to Russia," getting the post of the prime minister.

In addition, "there's no doubt he [Zelensky] is backed by the [Ukrainian] oligarch Igor Kolomoisky," who is "not exactly the fan of Russia."

Also on rt.com Taxes of Ukraine’s Poroshenko show his income jumped 10,000% thanks to Rothschild Trust

Nevertheless, the comedian is not a president now and will face Poroshenko in the second round. The current president, who made a fortune from his confectionery empire Roshen, has a number of advantages going into the final three weeks "using all resources of the state," MacDonald suggested.

"I think things will be getting very nasty for the next three weeks," he said, anticipating "lots of revelations about [Zelensky's] private life and business life."

And there is also a possibility that Poroshenko "may cheat using the resources of the [government] – you know, it goes back to the old Stalin quote, it's not about the votes, it's about who counts the votes."

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