Zelensky: political solution for Crimea after all?
Time and again, Kyiv has stressed its determination to retake Crimea, which has been occupied by Russia since 2014, by military means. But now President Volodymyr Zelensky has said he believes a political solution is feasible. Once the Ukrainians are on the administrative border with Crimea it would be possible "to push through the demilitarisation of Russia on the territory of Ukrainian Crimea," he said on Sunday. Commentators discuss the initiative.
Zelensky is worried about the mood in his country, La Repubblica suspects:
“Behind these words there could also be a reassuring message to the nation, exhausted after months and months of war, the loss of civilians (9,500 according to the UN) and soldiers, the constant bombardment of cities, hospitals and schools, the destroyed infrastructure and the prospect of a gigantic and extremely costly nationwide reconstruction. ... Against this uncertain backdrop there is also the problem of the parliamentary elections [slated for October], which Zelensky is willing to hold ‘assuming our parliamentarians are ready, because we need changes to the legislation and the electoral law’.”
More a sign of Moscow’s weakness
Der Standard doesn’t see the Ukrainian president on the defensive here:
“The motivation in Ukraine to reconquer its rightful territory remains high. The desire to wrest Putin’s prestige object Crimea back from him is even higher. Under international law, everything is clear: Crimea is part of Ukraine’s territory. But de facto, before February 2022 hardly anyone doubted that Moscow was calling the shots there. The fact that the future of Crimea is now being discussed — and will perhaps be negotiated at some point — is a sign of Moscow’s weakness. A mess that Putin got himself into.”
Action instead of reaction
Zelensky is trying to stay ahead of the game with good reason, Corriere della Sera comments:
“Ukraine could suspend the martial law in force since the Russian invasion and hold parliamentary and presidential elections by 2024. Moreover, the Ukrainian military cannot operate deep in Russian territory for the simple reason that it risks antagonising the country’s allies. ... The deeper significance here, however, is that more than 18 months after the invasion began the Ukrainian president is trying to reopen the country to politics and diplomacy. Zelensky is well aware that the allies will soon start upping the pressure to end the war, and he is anticipating this. The counter-offensive in the southeast has achieved some partial successes, but the goal of liberating all the occupied territories is still a long way off.”
Ukraine must lower its sights
The Tages-Anzeiger sees this as a tactical move:
“In the end, the conflict between Russia and Ukraine will probably be decided militarily after all. In this war, or perhaps not until the next one. But if Ukraine sets itself realistic goals now, it will be more likely to keep its supporters in Washington, London, Berlin and elsewhere in line than if it goes the whole hog, in this case by aiming to take back Crimea.”