If the West wants elections to be conducted in Ukraine next year, Volodymyr Zelensky, the president of the country, has urged that taxpayers in the US and EU provide the nation even more money.
Zelensky stated that he would be open to holding elections despite the martial law still in effect due to the ongoing conflict with Russia, provided that the U.S. and EU finance the electoral process. The interview was released by the president’s office this week.
The Ukrainian leader stated that elections normally cost roughly 5 billion hryvnia ($135 million) in times of peace but made no assumptions about exactly how much more they are expected to cost in times of conflict, though it is likely that they would be significantly more.
Zelensky claimed that he spoke with U.S. Republican Senator Lindsey Graham about money for the elections in 2024. Graham has proven to be one of the most vociferous advocates on Capitol Hill for increasing aid to Ukraine.
“I told Senator Graham that if the U.S. along with Europe give us funds… I’m sorry, but I won’t hold elections on credit, and I also won’t use money from guns to pay for elections. But if you’re willing to give me this money and the politicians agree that it’s necessary to do this, then we shall quickly change the law and, perhaps most importantly, let’s take chances together,” Zelensky said.
“The ditches are where observers need to be. I told him that monitors should be sent out to the front lines so that we and the rest of the world can trust the polls. And this is totally fair,” he said.
While the country remains under martial law, which is renewed every 90 days, it is not possible to hold polls. The next date that martial rule will end is November 15. This means that parliamentary elections probably won’t happen in October when they usually do.
Under normal conditions, the next presidential election would take place in March of the following year. Not only is the vote itself unclear, but it’s also not clear if President Zelensky will lift the ban on several opposition groups that he put in place last year because he thought they were pro-Russian.
In the interview this week, Zelensky went on to talk about some of the problems with holding elections. He said that because millions of Ukrainians live outside of Ukraine, mostly in the European Union, EU countries would have to set up voting stations for the refugees.
“We need help from Europe because most Ukrainians live in the European Union right now. People must be able to vote there, so polling places must be set up. Seven million people must vote. We don’t have that kind of infrastructure, so we need to make sure there are solid chances there,” he said.
“Ukraine needs elections next year. Even though this country is under attack, I want it to be able to hold a fair and free election,” the president said.