Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy on Monday said that he does not believe it is the right time for elections as debate intensifies on holding a vote next year while the country fights Russia’s invasion.
All elections, including the presidential vote set to take place next spring, are technically canceled under martial law that has been in effect since the conflict began last year.
“We must decide that now is the time of defense, the time of battle, on which the fate of the state and people depends,” Zelenskiy said in his daily address.
He said it was a time for the country to be united, not divided, adding: “I believe that now is not the [right] time for elections.”
The frontline between the warring sides has remained mostly static for almost a year despite a Ukrainian counteroffensive, with Russian forces entrenched in southern and eastern Ukraine.
Officials from the US and Europe are reported to have suggested holding negotiations to end the 20-month-old conflict.
However, Zelenskiy has denied that Ukraine’s counteroffensive has hit a stalemate or that Western countries were leaning on Kyiv to enter talks.
The president, who was elected in 2019, said in September that he was ready to hold national elections next year if necessary, and was in favor of allowing international observers.
Former presidential aide Oleksiy Arestovych has announced that he would run against his former boss, after criticizing Zelenskiy over the slow pace of the counteroffensive.
Separately, Romanian Prime Minister Marcel Ciolacu on Monday said that Ukraine’s allies must stand firm in backing Kyiv or risk emboldening populist forces across Europe.
Ciolacu said that his government would forge ahead with “multidimensional support” for Ukraine even as European allies show signs of war fatigue, particularly with the Israel-Hamas conflict overshadowing Russia’s invasion.
The conflict in the Middle East is likely to be resolved sooner than the war next door to Romania, he said.
“Romania will continue to help Ukraine regardless of the political costs,” Ciolacu said in an interview in his office in Bucharest. “These political costs are less important than the precedent a Russian victory would create.”
“Can you image how many Putin lookalikes we would get among certain populist European politicians?” Ciolacu asked.
Additional reporting by Bloomberg
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