Last week, there were events indicating alarming trends in relations between Ukraine and the West. In particular, the PACE took the decision on the unconditional return of the delegation of the Russian Federation. This was a real foreign policy defeat of Ukraine. In addition, on April 27, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky demonstrated that he had no communication with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He gathered an emergency briefing and announced that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs without his knowledge responded to a note from Russia, which contained conditions for the release of sailors that were unacceptable for the Ukrainian party. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs refused from these conditions, which caused irritation on the part of Zelensky. "Apostrophe" learned from experts what consequences can incomprehensible actions of the head of state on the foreign policy front lead to.
Ukraine suffered two geopolitical defeats
In its note, the Kremlin demanded Kyiv to hold a trial of Ukrainian sailors under Russian law. This was a necessary condition for their release. But at the same time it's meant to recognize the sailors are not prisoners of war and criminals, who illegally crossed the border of Russia and Crimea - Russian territory
Note from Moscow is a consequence of the agreements between Russia, Germany and France, said the Director of the Center for Middle East Studies Ihor Semyvolos. Zelensky was briefed on the action plan during his visit to Europe. Paris and Berlin hoped that Zelensky did not fully understand the political and legal consequences of the adventure to which he agreed.
In the situation with the note and the return of Russia to PACE, Ukraine suffered two geopolitical defeats at once-the first was the loss of subjectivity - "nothing about Ukraine without Ukraine", which Petro Poroshenko achieved previously and which Zelensky was not able to defend. The second is that Europe is returning to business as usual with Russia, intending to build relations with the Kremlin based solely on its own positions.
From the point of view of Europe, it was a test of our foreign policy positions. If we had fallen into the trap, Germany and France would have simply spread their hands, and would have left Kyiv to solve the issue of Crimea facing Russia, the expert believes.
It is unknown, if Zelensky knew in advance, what conditions would Russia suggest. But when he came to the press briefing, he was already in a weak position, not even falling into the trap. "The fact that Zelensky did not receive a note from Russia, did not read it, is, frankly speaking, indicating to the fact that the President is not able to maintain at least some contacts with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Therefore, the Minister could not know what was on Zelensky’s mind," Semyvolos said.
The strong ones of the world are not interested in selfies with Zelensky
"Zelensky is silent because of lack of experience, lack of his own vision, lack of knowledge and ambitions, as a politician. It is obvious that he was not ready", the Ukrainian diplomat Vasyl Filipchuk said.
In his opinion, the current President could quickly learn everything himself or recruit a team that would suit him. Instead, he decided to leave the team of Petro Poroshenko (Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin resigned, but the Verkhovna Rada refused his resignation).
But in that team it was Poroshenko who took on many responsibilities in foreign policy. Therefore, it is sometimes said that Pavlo Klimkin and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs looked weaker against the background of the President. Now Zelensky has handed over all the main cases in the hands of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, being content with Protocol procedures.
"Selfies with the President Zelensky are interesting to Ukrainian students, not the leaders of the leading countries of the world. Zelensky was to announce Zelensky's "peace plan"immediately after the elections – it was expected to be a systemic vision on the basis of which a dialogue with the Americans and Russians would be built. This plan should include reformatting NATO so that it poses a greater threat to Russia. At the level of bilateral relations, it is necessary to offer Moscow a deal that will be beneficial for it too – otherwise the Kremlin will simply not accept the offer. But meetings with EU leaders have shown that Zelensky is not able to offer anything," Filipchuk says.
After Zelensky's election, Ukraine was pushed into the background. Europe accepts the alternatives offered by the Kremlin - Nord stream 2, Iran, North Korea, Venezuela. Russia's return to PACE is Kyiv's biggest diplomatic defeat in the past few years.
What should Zelensky say in the world
But sooner or later, the current President of Ukraine will have to make direct contacts with Vladimir Putin.
"Putin is unlikely to take any Ukrainian President seriously, unless he is Yuriy Boyko or Viktor Medvedchuk," German political scientist Andreas Umland said in a conversation with "Apostrophe" journalist.
"Self-isolation will not be helpful for Zelensky,” political scientist Mykhailo Basarab says. – “The President should just call a spade a spade. And to say that Ukraine will not make political compromises to liberate its territory or part of it."
The expert of the International Center for Policy Studies Mykola Kapitonenko advises during direct contacts to find out what interests Russia has, what it wants, on what conditions it is ready to withdraw troops from Donbass. Then it is necessary to discuss the plan with the community, then – to try to bargain with the EU and the US as much as possible advantages for its implementation. He adds that Putin is most likely satisfied with the current situation.
An anonymous source in diplomatic circles told “Apostrophe” that Zelensky's style of communication is unacceptable for Russians. It was a shock for them to see Zelensky being rude to President Poroshenko. This behavior toward Putin is just a “suicide” in the opinion of the Russians.
Since Russia does not agree to change the format of the talks, it would be a great progress to introduce a UN peacekeeping mission in the Donbas and establish a temporary international administration in the occupied territories, German political scientist Andreas Umland added.
Reformatting the government “according to Zelensky" – what kind of threat is there?
Experts believe that the situation can be leveled after the parliamentary elections and the reformatting of the government. If the current situation continues, the pro-presidential party "Servant of the people" will be able to form the Cabinet with a minimum number of quotas from other parties.
Political scientist Mykhailo Basarab believes that the silence observed by the new President on the foreign policy front is connected with the expectations of the elections.
"This is his electoral plan to keep the electoral potential as much as possible, which he was able to mobilize during the presidential campaign," the expert explains.
During the presidential race Zelensky avoided answering questions-markers that are fundamental for the majority of Ukrainians, Basarab continues. He was able to unite opponents and supporters of the EU and NATO, and now he gets off with common phrases regarding Russian aggression.
The revenge-seekers perceive frail and vague position of the President as weakness and encouragement to action, the activation of the "fifth column" and a space.
"The Kremlin will now enjoy how Kyiv will lose its position in foreign policy and will demonstrate to everyone: "We said that Ukraine is a failed state." For them, the ideal option is Zelensky, who could not manage the country, failed, which caused destabilization," Vasyl Filipchuk adds.
Zelensky's weak position, his lack of understanding of geopolitical realities poses a threat to Ukrainian statehood, Ihor Semyvolos believes: "Zelensky's team has absolutely no brakes and has no strategic vision of the threats that exist in relations with Russia."