Zelenskiy says elections could happen under fire if West helps

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, responding to calls by a US senator this week to announce elections in 2024, recently said voting could take place during wartime if partners shared the cost, legislators approved, and everyone got to the polls.

Elections cannot currently be held in Ukraine under martial law, which must be extended every 90 days and is next due to expire on Nov. 15, after the normal date in October for parliamentary polls but before presidential elections which would normally be held in March 2024.

Top American legislators visited Kyiv on Aug. 23, among them Senator Lindsey Graham, who heaped praise on Kyiv’s fight against Russian President Vladimir Putin but said the country needed to show it was different by holding elections in wartime.

Zelenskiy, in a television interview with Natalia Moseichuk, an anchor for the 1+1 Channel, said he had discussed the issue with Graham including the question of funding and the need to change the law.

“I told him, “if you are ready to give me 5 billion.” Since I am not a person who deals with the cobblestones, I cannot just take 5 billion from the budget. It seems to me this is exactly the amount needed to hold elections in peacetime. I don’t know how much is needed in wartime. So I told him that if the US and Europe provide financial support. I’m sorry, I’m not asking for anything, I’m not going to hold elections in credit. I will not take money from weapons and give it to elections. And this is stipulated by law,” Zelenskiy said.

“And there are moments with foreign countries. Here, we need Europe to help us, for the most part. Because Ukrainians [refugees] are in the majority in the European Union today. And we need to open up appropriate opportunities there so that people can come to the polls. We don’t have such infrastructural capabilities. Seven million people have to vote. We need every vote,” he added.

The interview was uploaded on the Office of the President of Ukraine’s YouTube channel on Sunday.