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Home / World / After Trump Call, Ukraine's Zelenskiy Gambles On Russia Peace Push Without Help: NPR

After Trump Call, Ukraine's Zelenskiy Gambles On Russia Peace Push Without Help: NPR



Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy speaks with journalists in Kyiv, Ukraine, on Thursday.
                
                
                    
                    Efrem Lukatsky / AP
                    
                

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Efrem Lukatsky / AP
        
    

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy speaks with journalists in Kyiv, Ukraine, on Thursday.

Efrem Lukatsky / AP
            
        

When President Trump held his first meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy at the United Nations last month, one offhand remark by the U.S.

"I really hope that you and President Putin get together and can solve your problem," Trump said, referring to Russian leader Vladimir Putin.

Zelenskiy's "problem," of course, is a Russian-backed insurgency that has cost more than 13,000 people since 2014. In just a couple of sentences, trump dashed Ukrainian hopes of more active US

A woman walks in the ruins of a house after an artillery attack in the Ukrainian village of Mariinka on June 14. A conflict with Russian-backed separatists has killed 13,000 people since 2014.
                
                
                    
                    Anatolii Stepanov / AFP / Getty Images
                    
                

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Anatolii Stepanov / AFP / Getty Images
        
    

A woman walks in the ruins of a house after an artillery attack in the Ukrainian village of Mariinka on June 14. A conflict with Russian-backed separatists has killed 13,000 people since 2014.

Anatolii Stepanov / AFP / Getty Images
            
        

Trump and Zelenskiy, the newly-elected Ukrainian Leader, said he was in a hurry to leave his country Zelenskiy's visit to New York, said Alyona Getmanchuk, director of the New Europe Center in the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv.

"Ukraine is becoming more and more isolated after Zelenskiy's visit to New York."

The first casualty in Trump's effort to track a Ukrainian investigation into former vice president Joe Biden what the US Ambassador to Kyiv, Marie Yovanovitch, whom trump calls "bad news" in his July 25 conversation with Zelenskiy.

Then, after the whistleblower complaint about that phone call was published last month, the Trump administration's special envoy for Ukraine, Kurt Volker, resigned. Volker trying to mediate between Ukrainian officials and Rudy Giuliani, Trump's personal lawyer who has been sent to Zelenskiy administration.

Now Ukrainian officials can no longer be certain that their American interlocutors Kostyantyn Gryshchenko, former Ukrainian foreign minister.

Mothers and widows of Ukrainian people are watching pictures of their relative during a memorial rally in front of the Russian Embassy in Kyiv, Ukraine's capital, in August.
                
                
                    
                    Sergei Supinsky / AFP / Getty Images
                    
                

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Sergei Supinsky / AFP / Getty Images
        
    

Mothers and widows of Ukrainian servicemen hold pictures of their relative during a memorial rally in front of the Russian embassy in Kyiv, Ukraine's capital, in August.

Sergei Supinsky / AFP / Getty Images
            
        

"The current situation is extremely unfavorable for Ukraine." ASAP, whatever the cost, "Gryshchenko said. Kyiv has to be ready to take its ground as long as it takes. "Ukraine's demands halfway through the Kremlin, which is not a hurry to meet."

Ukraine's main strategic goal is to regain full control over its border with Russia, which includes separatists in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions with a constant stream of supplies.

Zelenskiy has already come under fire domestically for his willingness to meet the Kremlin's preconditions for holding a summit with Putin and the leaders of France and Germany, guarantors of a stalled peace process known as the Minsk agreement.

In an Oct , 3 addresses to the nation, Zelenskiy said in a controlled manner by Russian proxies and granting the territories a "special status" as foreseen in the Minsk deal. He pledged the vote would be free and fair, and that Ukraine would eventually take control over its eastern border.

Critics say the vagueness of Zelenskiy's plan plays to Russia's strengths – and Ukraine's weaknesses. Chanting "no capitulation," Thousands of protesters on Sunday featured on Kyiv's Independence Square, the gathering point for two popular revolutions over the past 20 years.

Zelenskiy, a professional comedian before he entered politics, which was elected in a landslide last spring , catapulted to power by popular anger, corruption and the absence of peace. Although his approval ratings top 70%, Ukrainians' attitudes toward Zelenskiy's peace initiative are ill-defined. 23% are opposed and 18% support it.

The Minsk deal, finalized in 2015, is the basis for Zelenskiy's effort to end the fighting. His predecessor, Petro Poroshenko, agreed to stop escalating conflict.

Poroshenko signed the Minsk agreement as a tactical move, says Oleksiy Melnyk, a foreign policy expert at the Razumkov Center, a think tank in Kyiv. He calls the document a "Russian plan" that gives the Kremlin a veto over internal political processes in Ukraine.

Melnyk's recommendation to Zelenskiy would be to spell out exactly what his government would consider a victory in eastern Ukraine, as well as the steps to achieving it.

"In the worst-case scenario, we would probably like to move to the corner of our European partners and Russia to implement the Russian plan," Melnyk said.

Support from Germany and France, which So signed the Minsk agreement, is no longer as strong as it was. In the White House's partial transcript of the July phone call, Zelenskiy is trumped "not only 100%, but actually 1,000%" that Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron are not doing enough to help Ukraine. [19659008] Merkel is looking to the end of the fourth and final term in two years, while Macron is pushing to the bottom with Putin. The European Union adopted sanctions on Russia in 2014 to punish the Kremlin for its military intervention in Ukraine.

"Macron is quite skeptical," said Getmanchuk of The New Europe Center.

The Zelenskiy administration initially saw Trump as a possible ally in revived negotiations. Trump to invite Putin and Zelenskiy to the next year's Group of Seven summit in the US, according to Getmanchuk.

"The Ukrainian logic was that Trump would position himself as the No. 1 peacemaker where Merkel and Macron failed, "she says. Zelenskiy's trip to the New York, that's became moot.

"We do not think of Trump as an ally," she says.

But even the trump administration's interest in Ukraine shrinks, some Ukrainians think it's time they're more to take their destiny into their own hands.

Even though US Nataliya Gumenyuk, the head of Kyiv's independent Hromadske broadcaster.

"He's not alone because he represents Ukrainian society," she said. "In the eyes of Putin, who is not very democratic, this popularity matters a lot."

Zelenskiy, she says, still has a chance to succeed.


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