Ukraine president says ‘not the time’ for elections

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All elections, including the presidential one due next spring, have technically been canceled under martial law that has been in place since the conflict began last year.

“We must decide that this is the time of defense, the time of struggle, on which the fate of the state and the people depends,” Zelensky said in his daily speech.

He said it is time for unity in the country and not division. He added: “I believe this is not the (right) time for elections.”

The front line between the warring sides has remained largely static for almost a year, despite a much-hyped Ukrainian counter-offensive, with Russian troops entrenched in southern and eastern Ukraine.

Officials from the United States and Europe – Kiev’s main allies – are said to have proposed starting negotiations to end the 20-month conflict.

But Zelensky has fiercely denied that Ukraine’s counteroffensive has reached a stalemate, or that Western countries were leaning on Kiev to start talks.

The United States and other supporters have publicly maintained that they are willing to support Kiev with military and financial aid for as long as it takes to defeat Russia.

Global attention has been focused on the Middle East since Hamas’s attack on Israel on October 7 – and Zelensky is under increasing pressure.

– Art museum hit –

Russian attacks in the southern Ukrainian region of Odessa injured eight people and damaged a historic art museum, Ukrainian officials said, in the latest barrage of drones and missiles.

Three others were injured in a Russian shelling attack on the southern city of Kherson on Monday, as Kiev doubled down on warnings that Russia planned to bomb Ukraine’s energy infrastructure before winter.

Images released by officials at the Odesa Museum of Fine Arts show art torn from the walls of the 19th-century building and windows blown out by the aerial bombardment.

UNESCO said it “strongly condemns the attack” and that “cultural sites must be protected.”

On Monday, Zelenskiy said Ukrainian forces had successfully destroyed a large Russian ship at the Kerch Shipyard in annexed Crimea.

The president, who was elected in 2019, said in September that he was willing to hold national elections next year if necessary and supported allowing international observers.

Voting could be logistically difficult due to the large number of Ukrainians abroad and the soldiers fighting on the front lines.

Zelensky’s popularity skyrocketed after the war broke out, but the country’s political landscape was unstable despite the war’s unifying power.

Former presidential aide Oleksiy Arestovych has announced he will run against his former boss after criticizing Zelensky over the slow pace of the counter-offensive.

Also on Monday, a close adviser to the commander-in-chief of the Ukrainian army, General Valery Zaluzhny, was killed by an explosive device hidden in a birthday present.

“Under tragic circumstances, my assistant and close friend Major Gennadiy Chastiakov was killed,” Zaluzhny wrote on Telegram, saying an investigation had been launched.

Ukrainian prosecutors, meanwhile, said they had formally notified two senior defense officials that they are suspects in a massive fraud case involving the purchase of military uniforms.

Ukraine has waged an uphill battle against systemic corruption as part of the reforms the West is pushing for membership in institutions like the European Union.


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