Ukraine had its presidential elections last week. The winner of the election is the Ukrainian stand-up comedian, and YouTube star Zelensky. Mr. Zelensky enjoyed regional success and proved a point that has been known since JFK beat Nixon because of television; image and popularity matter. Zelensky is many things, but a politician he isn’t. This fact, along with the aforementioned star factor, actually greatly benefited his rise to take Ukraine’s highest office. Now that the polls are closed, it is time to see how the political fresh face performs. This leaves Ukrainians, the West, and Russia begging the question; What is next for Ukraine? The transition away from Porshenko, a pro-western politician and businessman had immediate effects in the region. Despite the West’s providing of military and financial support to Poroshenko’s government, the electorate had different plans. Those plans seemed to embolden the Kremlin. The morning after Ukraine’ presidential election, Putin spoke on Russian radio, discussing giving Russian passports to citizens of Ukraine’s highly contested Eastern and Central regions (Donbas, Luhansk). This was one of the steps Putin is initiating in what appears to be a grandiose plan for Ukraine. A week after the election a second major announcement was made by the Kremlin.
Russian and Ukrainian citizens now can apply to have both citizenships.
The power play with dual citizenships, allows Russia to step into Ukraine any time they want. Think of Georgia in 2008. All the Kremlin has to say is they are “ protecting Russian citizens”.
Conjecture is already buzzing that a referendum is in the workings to reunite Russia and Ukraine as one “Fraternal Slavic Nation “. Putin also made a suggestion to return citizenship to Saakashvilli, the pro-Russian “politician” that had his Ukrainian citizenship revoked during Poroshenko’s time in office.
From a geopolitical prospective, Urkaine is a key buffer state between the EU-NATO-Russia. A frozen conflict in Ukraine at least gave the superpowers a bit of breathing room from each other. If Ukraine slides to Russia, the Cold War could be resurrected in a way which remains incalculable.