Ukraine War: Tensions Mount Over 2024 Election Amidst Martial Law

Image: Global Look Press/Keystone Press Agency)

Kyiv – A contentious debate continues to grip Ukraine as the country grapples with the prospect of holding its presidential election in March 2024, a date originally scheduled but now under question due to the ongoing martial law imposed following Russia’s extensive invasion in February 2022.

The debate surrounding the elections has sparked fervent discussions within Ukraine’s political circles. Many voices in the country express deep concerns that holding an election at this time might divert the nation’s attention from the urgent struggle for survival amidst the invasion.

Recent remarks by President Volodymyr Zelensky in November, stating that the current period is “not the right time” for elections, briefly alleviated tensions. However, the issue remains a focal point of political confrontation, marking an unprecedented challenge in Ukraine’s political landscape since the commencement of Russia’s full-scale invasion, BBC says.

Interestingly, a significant driving force behind this debate emerges not from within Ukraine but from the United States. A subset within the Republican party, influenced by isolationist views reminiscent of former President Donald Trump’s policies, has been instrumental in propelling the discussion regarding Ukrainian elections.

Olha Aivazovska, chairwoman of the election monitoring network Opora, suggests that certain hard-right Republicans exploit this issue to justify blocking military aid to Ukraine, intertwining it with their domestic political agendas in anticipation of the 2024 US elections.

Despite broader Republican support for Ukraine, concerns are raised that the far-right faction may use this topic against Ukraine during the upcoming US presidential elections.

Individuals like Vivek Ramaswamy, a Republican presidential candidate, have cast doubt on Ukraine’s democratic credentials, alleging that Ukraine is leveraging the potential delay of elections to secure increased financial support from the US. Even Senator Lindsey Graham, during his visit to Kyiv, emphasized the necessity for Ukraine to conduct presidential elections in 2024, likely influenced by these voices within the US political landscape.

Zelensky, cognizant of the influence of these sentiments on US support for Ukraine, acknowledged the United States as Ukraine’s primary ally and recognized the pivotal role of US military aid in resisting Russia’s invasion. Zelensky initially outlined the challenges posed by security, legislation, and funding but expressed a readiness to run for a second term if elections were to proceed during wartime. However, in a recent interview, Zelensky indicated a willingness to hold elections within a year or when deemed necessary.

However, hurdles loom large even if martial law were revised to allow elections. Significant obstacles, such as security concerns and a displaced population, pose substantial challenges. Olena Shulyak, an MP and head of the ruling Servant of the People party, highlighted the impossibility of conducting elections amidst the ongoing conflict. Shulyak emphasized the challenges faced by millions of displaced citizens and the inability of soldiers to vote or become candidates in such circumstances. Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba noted that Zelensky is evaluating the various pros and cons associated with holding elections during wartime.

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