Despite martial law, some Western politicians are pushing Kyiv to hold parliamentary and presidential elections, reports the Washington Post.
The proposal — initially floated by Tiny Cox, the Dutch head of the Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly — was also pressed by Sen. Lindsey O. Graham, during a visit to Kyiv last month with Senators Richard Blumenthal and Elizabeth Warren, which otherwise focused on solidifying U.S. assistance and bipartisan support for Ukraine.
Other Republicans have also taken up the cause, including conservative commentators like Tucker Carlson, who falsely accused Zelensky of canceling elections. Ukraine’s constitution prohibits elections under martial law.
It should be noted that the Constitution of Ukraine prohibits holding elections under martial law. Roughly one-fifth of Ukraine’s territory is now occupied by Russian forces. Millions of Ukrainians are displaced and many are living outside the country. Tens of thousands of soldiers are deployed to the front.
The pressure to hold elections, despite such obstacles, highlights the constant demand by some in the West that Ukraine prove its commitment to democracy, even though Ukrainians have twice risen up in mass pro-democracy demonstrations — the Orange Revolution of 2003-4 and the Maidan Revolution of 2013-14.
Ukrainian officials say that in order to hold a major vote during wartime, considerable financial, logistical and legal hurdles must be overcome. In private, some say that the prospect is outright impossible, and could provide Moscow security forces with a means to infiltrate and weaken Ukraine from within.
"The Russians are pushing for this through their secret channels,” a Ukrainian official in the security apparatus said, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the subject. “There is no situation in which it is possible to have a democratic election during the war.”
But Kyiv officials also cannot dismiss the idea of holding elections out of hand and risk alienating key political players in the West.
The Secretary of the National Security and Defence Council, Oleksiy Danilov, opposes holding elections during a full-scale war with Russia.
"I can say that as soon as campaigners enter the trenches, we will lose. Campaigning cannot be in the trenches, and our people are in the trenches. And the task of the state is quite simple - to ensure that everyone votes... People who are abroad..." he explained.
Earlier, President Zelenskyy stressed that elections in Ukraine under martial law are possible only if all citizens, including military personnel and internally displaced persons abroad, are able to vote.
Parliamentary elections should be held in 2024, but they are impossible during martial law.