Putin Doesn’t Consider Zelensky “Sovereign Counterpart” – The Institute for the Study Of War (ISW), a non-partisan public policy research organization, said in a report published on December 22 that Russian President Vladimir Putin “continues to refuse to treat Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy as an equal and sovereign counterpart.”
As a result, the think tank argues that Putin is “not interested in serious negotiations with Ukraine.”
If the Russian president does not consider Zelenskyy a legitimate leader of a sovereign country, it could have significant implications for the war in Ukraine. That would mean diplomatic discussions are off the cards, but also undermining claims from the Russian president about the sovereignty of the Ukrainian government on territories not annexed by Russia.
The ISW report notes how the Russian president did not react to remarks made by Zelenskyy to the United States Congress on Thursday, and instead focused on a press conference held on the same day on the support given to Ukraine by the United States and the West.
“Putin reiterated his boilerplate and false claims that the US and Western countries have intervened in Ukraine since the Soviet Union, driving a wedge in the supposed Russian-Ukrainian historic and cultural unity,” the report reads, adding that statements like these are “meant to suggest that Ukraine’s 1991 emergence as a sovereign state was a sham.”
If Putin doesn’t believe that Ukraine is a legitimate and sovereign country outside of Crimea and the four territories annexed by Russia in September, it suggests that the Kremlin is not being honest when it claims to be open to negotiations with Ukraine.
Putin Absolving Himself Of Responsibility?
In the same report, the ISW suggested that Putin is “doubling down” on an effort to absolve himself of responsibility for “conducting a protracted war in Ukraine.”
By issuing several statements suggesting that Russia intends to end the war as soon as possible, while at the same time promising not to increase the pace of the war to avoid “unjustified losses,” the ISW suggests that Putin is trying to justify the war effort and the damage it has caused to the national economy and the quality of life of Russian citizens.
Those efforts, however, suggest that Putin is very aware that the war is not going as planned. The Russian president may finally be fully aware of how badly the war is going in Ukraine, after months of intelligence updates from Western governments suggesting that Kremlin officials may have been hiding the full truth about his military’s failures.
Jack Buckby is 19FortyFive’s Breaking News Editor.