Friday, August 9, 2019

Zelensky by Being for Peace Makes Putin who Isn’t Look Bad, Pastukhov Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, August 7 – Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky by showing on all occasions that he is for peace isn’t going to make significant concessions to get it because Russian President Vladimir Putin doesn’t want peace but rather the continuation of the “no war, no peace” situation, Vladimir Pastukhov says.

            But the London-based Russian analyst argues that Zelensky is achieving two important things by taking the position he has. On the one hand, he is consolidating Ukrainian society which is overwhelmingly tired of the war; and on the other, he is making Putin look bad in the eyes of the West (

Pastukhov has argued since April 2014 that Ukraine needs peace, even a Brest Peace, if it is to address its domestic problems but noted then and now that Putin isn’t interested in giving him one and thus a victory. (For a discussion of Pastukhov’s position at that time, see

Zelensky has been criticized, the Russian analyst says, for calling Putin and trying to begin talks. “But that you begin doing so does not mean that you will make concessions.” Politics, Pastukhov reminds is “the art of the possible. And Zelensky is doing what is possible and necessary” given where he and Ukraine now are.

Those who fear he is going to make some kind of massive concession are wrong “for one simple reasons: In Ukraine there exists a feedback loop, and he will not be able to do anything which society does not accept. At least at the present stage until he becomes a Hitler,” Pastukhov says.

Thus, he continues, Zelensky is conducting himself in a politically correct way. He is showing his readiness for peace [event though] he understands better than you or me that there is no prospect of that. But in this way, he demonstrates that from his side there are no problems,” and Putin’s rejection of his proffered hand makes Putin look worse in the West.

Up to now, Pastukhov continues, “Russia isn’t interested in any peace talks. It has no motivation to help Ukraine: its motivation is to undermine Ukraine. Therefore, I do not think that n the establishment of Ukraine are people who naively support that they will receive some sort of answer. And corresponding to that, they are solving their own tasks.”

“Their task now is to stabilize society and find a new consensus, a new balance of relations between the Ukrainian establishment and Ukrainian society. This balance was lost by the previous revolutionary government for two reasons.” First, it didn’t solve the problem of corruption. And second, it cast itself as “a party of war” when the people were tired of the conflict.

            “Ukrainian society does not see itself as a society of war,” Pastukhov says; and the elections which Zelensky won in such a convincing fashion were the result. Ukrainians overwhelmingly want peace. Unfortunately, Moscow isn’t interested in giving it to them. But seeking it in the way Zelensky is doing is the right strategy under the circumstances.

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