Saturday, December 7, 2019

Putin Expects Zelensky’s Capitulation in Paris But Little Will Change if He Doesn’t Get It, Portnikov Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, December 5 – Vladimir Putin is going to Paris “to accept the capitulation” of Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky, counting on the two Western leaders, French President Macron and German Chancellor Merkel, to help him get it or at the very least not interfere with the Kremlin leader’s plans, Vitaly Portnikov says.

            But “nothing in particular” or at least nothing radically new compared to what has been happening will occur, the Ukrainian analyst says, “if Zelensky does not want to be a sacrificial lamb.” Instead, the Kremlin will step up its campaign against Ukraine concluding that it hasn’t yet put enough pressure on Kyiv (

            What that means is that the Ukrainian president “really has a very poor choice, between capitulation and war,” a choice made all the more difficult because “a great many of his compatriots do not want capitulation or war. They want peace” but not a shameful one. “Put in simplest terms, they want a miracle.” 

            Zelensky’s predecessor Petro Poroshenko understood that that was the choice that the quest for a meeting with Putin in the Normandy Format would confront any Ukrainian leader; and that is why he avoided it, being unwilling to capitulate and at the same time wanting to avoid a larger war.

            Moreover, Portnikov points out, Poroshenko’s approach allowed for the approach of better times after sanctions had had a longer time to sink in and while support for Ukraine from the West continued to arrive.  Unfortunately, Zelensky does not yet appear to understand what was ABC to Poroshenko.

            The Ukrainian leader needs to realize “why in fact there were no such meetings. But surrounded as he is by naïve or ill-intentioned people who are convinced that the war with Russia is continuing only because in Kyiv there are those who want ‘to enrich themselves’ and don’t want to talk with Putin.”

            But that time hasn’t come, and so Zelensky is rushing to a meeting in which none of his choices are good, Portnikov concludes, and he is “dragging his country along with him.”

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