Top EU diplomat dodges Ukrainian election question
EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell has refused to give an opinion on whether Ukraine should hold presidential and parliamentary elections in 2024, speaking during his visit to Kiev.
“About elections in Ukraine, it’s not my business. I’m in charge of foreign relations affairs of the EU, not internal politics of any member state, much less of Ukraine,” Borrell told journalists in the Ukrainian capital on Monday.
Holding elections is prohibited in Ukraine during at time of martial law, which is in now in place due to the conflict with Russia.
However, Western politicians including Tiny Kox, head of the Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly, and several US senators, have been pressuring Kiev to organize both presidential and parliamentary votes next year.
Republican Senator Lindsey Graham claimed in August that elections would be not only “an act of defiance against the Russian invasion, but an embrace of democracy and freedom.”
The Washington Post reported last week that Ukrainian officials have been resisting such calls from the US and EU. Sources, who talked to the paper, said holding a nationwide ballot in a country engaged in a major armed conflict “is virtually impossible and also ill-advised.”
In June, Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky stated that an election could only take place after the fighting with Moscow ends. However, he changed his mind in late August, saying that the vote could happen during the conflict if the relevant laws are changed. Zelensky assured Portuguese broadcaster RTP that he will run for re-election if an election does take place, and would not abandon his country in a difficult situation.
The Ukrainian president’s wife, Elena Zelenskaya, told CBS in late September that her husband’s participation in the election would “depend [on] whether our society would need him as a president.” She warned that “if he will feel that Ukrainian society would no longer wish him to be the president, he will probably not run.” Zelenskaya added that she would support her spouse, no matter what he decides.