Moscow's take on change of government in Kiev?

The party of Ukrainian President Voldymyr Zelenskyhas won an absolute majority of seats in the Rada, replacing an entire generation of parliamentarians who held sway over Ukraine for two decades. Eastern European media in particular speculate on what consequences this change of government could have for Russia.

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Ekho Moskvy (RU) /

Ukraine fixation is paralysing Russia

It's time Russia severed ties with Ukraine, both mentally and in terms of power politics, demands political scientist Lilia Shevzova in Echo Moskwy:

“Ukraine is not just a phantom pain for Russia, dragging us back into the past. Russia's reaction to Ukraine shows how psychologically incapable we are of reorientating our thinking towards the future. In the eyes of the Kremlin, peace with Ukraine equates with a return of the Russian army. But how can they return when 13,000 dead Ukrainians stand between us? ... The blood has created a new reality. And in it Russia's statehood will only be able to thrive and the ruling elite be free of complexes if we shake off our Ukraine obsession. We should focus on our own affairs.”

Gazeta Wyborcza (PL) /

Kremlin non-plussed

Gazeta Wyborcza has observed a stony silence in the Kremlin:

“The top dogs of the Russian political scene remained uncharacteristically silent after the election in Ukraine, at least until Monday afternoon. Apparently they were waiting for signals from above that would tell them how the Kremlin was interpreting the new situation. ... Russian media point out that Russia had invested heavily in the pro-Russian candidate Viktor Medvedchuk. Moscow financed the politician, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev received him and assured him that if he won the election Ukraine would be given a 25 percent discount on Russian gas. If Medvedchuk won, Moscow was also promising an exchange of Ukrainian war prisoners. All of these efforts, however, failed to increase the number of pro-Russian votes.”

Lietuvos rytas (LT) /

Moscow wants to sink the ship

Moscow could well step up its interference in Ukraine after Zelensky's victory, Lietuvos rytas fears:

“A large number of the supporters of the 'Servant of the People' party voted against the current government's policy, known as the 'policy of war', and for some form of 'peace' with Russia and its puppets in Donbass. ... Not only the Kremlin, but also those close to Zelensky are pressuring him to pursue agreements with Russia. If this pressure bears fruit it will be another victory for Russia on the path to its main goal, which is to throw the ship of the Ukrainian state off balance and sink it at last.”

Večer (SI) /

Perfect opportunity for a bridge-builder

All doors are open to Zelensky now, writes Večer:

“The 'servant of the people' and his party of the same name now have every chance to go down in history as the saviours of the Ukrainian people. He has the chance to turn his country into a bridge between East and West and the outlook is not at all bad. The announced exchange of prisoners and a potential meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin point in that direction. The US, at any rate, should not interfere here and Europe should realise that there is no such thing as an unconditional ally. Because all the European values we swear by and are fighting for are sadly being broken both east and west of us.”

Ekho Moskvy (RU) /

Ukrainians have renounced Russia

The election result cements Ukraine's separation from Moscow's zone of influence, writes Echo of Moscow:

'Our' Medvedchuk received the silver medal and the vote of one in eight voters. But he himself says that Crimea belongs to Ukraine, and his voters don't run around Kiev in combat gear, waving Russian flags and Putin portraits. Not a single Ukrainian politician or party has set the goal of capitulating to Russia, recognising Crimea as Russian and allowing Donbass to secede. ... Yes, they want the fighting to stop and they want reconciliation, trade and to be able to visit each other freely. Yes, they continue to speak Russian despite all that has gone on. But in reality no one wants to go on living with their older brother in the same flat and having to submit to his will.”

Neue Zürcher Zeitung (CH) /

Reliant on the West

The Neue Zürcher Zeitung warns against entertaining false hopes for peace in the Donbass:

“As long as Russia has no respect for Ukrainian sovereignty and more or less classifies this state as an accident of history, an end to Russian intervention in the Donbass will remain a pipe dream. In this situation the new leadership in Kiev is dependent on strong backing from the West. Zelensky may not have been the chosen candidate of European governments and scepticism about the abilities of his protest party is warranted. But in recent months he has certainly provided sufficient evidence of his pro-Western stance. Europe and America have every interest in seeing his promises of reform fulfilled. But in order to do so Zelensky, like his predecessor, will need foreign support - and clear words towards Moscow.”

Der Standard (AT) /

Now he has to deliver

Now the president's work really begins, Der Standard comments:

“Until now Zelensky has been in the comfortable position of being a president who is able to criticise without being held to account himself. Although nothing has happened in the two months since he took office, Zelensky has been able to blame this on the hostility of the Rada, which blocked all his proposed laws. ... Now he has to deliver! And the Ukrainians expect a lot of Zelensky. He campaigned with the promise to end the war in the Donbass region, and also to make the lives of all Ukrainians easier. Living standards are low and the economy needs new stimulus. And there's basically no money to pay any of this.”

NV (UA) /

Political novices will plunge country into chaos

Many Ukrainians have high expectations of the new faces in parliament. Commenting in Novoye Vremya author Serhiy Zhadan doesn't share their optimism:

“I believe the usual transfer of power is taking place in Ukraine, with the redistribution of zones of influence typical of such cases. ... How this will end for us all is obvious: people have come to power who - to put it mildly - are not particularly well prepared for the challenges they face. And this is worrying, because it would be extremely irresponsible to plunge a country that has been at war for more than five years into chaos and open uncontrollability.”

Corriere della Sera (IT) /

Negotiations with separatists now possible

Corriere della Sera hopes that progress can now be made in the Ukraine crisis:

“Now Zelensky can launch initiatives without having to fear the immediate impact on public opinion in his country. This is also true for the separatists, who now have a credible, legitimate dialogue partner (unlike the Kremlin they did not regard Poroshenko as such). But third countries who belong to the so-called Normandy format will probably have to take the initiative. ... Yesterday evening the umpteenth ceasefire came into effect, and an exchange of prisoners is expected to take place soon. Then we will see whether Germany, France and Russia can manage to persuade Zelensky and his opponents to engage in serious negotiations.”

Kommersant (RU) /

Toxic nationalism has been overcome

Kommersant outlines a paradigm shift that is taking place in Ukraine:

“With the scandalous language lawPoroshenko thought everything was taken care of. But Zelensky and his followers are showing that an all-out Ukrainisation at any price is impossible because it will divide the country. If Poroshenko's state project was aimed at the outside world, at a mythical integration with the Euro-Atlantic world, then Zelensky's budding project is all about domestic Ukrainian issues. He is turning his focus to the fight against corruption, solving social issues, fostering innovation and developing infrastructure. And his top priority is peace in Donbass instead of war against the separatists. Zelensky cannot just break away from the massive resurgence of Ukrainian nationalism, but he can at least try to make it less toxic.”