Zelensky wants Ukrainians to vote on a deal
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky announced on Monday that he will submit any potential peace deal with Russia to a popular vote in Ukraine. A referendum is necessary because the results of negotiations with Russia on the fate of Ukraine could be "historic", Zelensky said. Commentators react with cautious approval.
A strong message to Putin
The idea is unusual, but not unrealistic, says Der Standard:
“It may not offer an immediate perspective for the future, but it says all the more about the present. Zelensky is sending a signal to the world and to his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin: there is no autocrat in power in Kyiv. ... Now Zelensky is letting the Kremlin know that he does not intend to let Moscow force him to make decisions on his own at the negotiating table. And there is also a hint that he does not consider himself the sole guarantor of his country's freedom. ... That was also Zelensky's message to Putin: 'Neither of us knows when and how this war will end. I, however, can count on the citizens of my country.”
A referendum could undermine peace
Lidové noviny praises the Ukrainian president's announcement as exemplary democracy, but also sees a problem:
“States that were pressured into a strategic agreement with Russia in the past paid for it with the loss of part of their territory. We can only speculate on how Finns, Poles or Czechoslovaks would have voted given the choice. But in the case of the Ukrainians, the question is real. Do they want peace with Russia? Of course they do. But even at the cost of losing Crimea and other territories? If the Ukrainians said no, they would be seen by many as warmongers who are undermining the almost complete peace. That's the catch with this referendum.”