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When Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy was asked about Russian attempts to assassinate him, he replied that he couldn't afford to be worried. This response is not surprising, given the risks he faces as a symbol of Ukraine's fight against Russia. Zelenskyy's rejection of an evacuation offer during the Russian invasion showcased his determination to muster international support for his nation. However, his stance has made him a target for Russian lawmakers and military bloggers. The threat to his life is real, with several assassination attempts disclosed by his adviser, Mikhail Podolyak.
This article explores the risks and challenges Zelenskyy faces, the potential impact of his assassination, and Ukraine's contingency plans for the future. While the topic may be grim, it is essential to understand the potential consequences and preparedness in the face of adversity.
1. The High Stakes
1.1 The Symbolic Role of Zelenskyy
Zelenskyy's leadership has become a symbol of Ukraine's righteous fight against Russia. His ability to rally international support and his relentless pursuit of aid and resources for his nation has put him in the spotlight and attracted admiration from the West.
1.2 The Target on His Back
Zelenskyy's actions and fearlessness have painted a bullseye on him, making him a prime target for Russian assassination attempts. His high-profile frontline appearances and parliamentary engagements make him vulnerable.
1.3 The Terrifying Track Record
The Kremlin's history of assassination operations, such as the poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko and the Novichok attack on Sergei Skripal, adds to the gravity of the threat faced by Zelenskyy.
2. The Plan in Place
2.1 The Reluctance to Discuss Succession
Given the high stakes, Ukrainian officials are hesitant to discuss succession plans publicly. Nevertheless, there is a plan in place to ensure continuity of government should the need arise.
2.2 The Line of Succession
Formally, the Ukrainian constitution dictates that the chairman of the Verkhovna Rada, Ruslan Stefanchuk, would assume presidential responsibilities if Zelenskyy were unable to fulfill his duties.
2.3 A Strong Leadership Team
Experts believe that Ukraine would see collective government rather than a power vacuum. A governing council comprising Stefanchuk, Andrii Yermak, Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov, and top general Valery Zaluzhny could lead the country.
2.4 The Role of Unity
Ukraine's national unity and solidarity are crucial factors that would shape the country's response to such a tragedy. The country's resilience, administrative, military, and diplomatic prowess would come into play.
3. The Potential Impact
3.1 History Offers Reassurance
Academics have found that assassinations of autocratic leaders produce substantial changes in a country's institutions, while assassinations of democratic leaders do not. Ukraine's democratic institutions and strong sense of nationhood offer hope in the face of such a crisis.
3.2 Ukraine's Transformative Journey
The Russian invasion inadvertently forged a new sense of Ukrainian nationhood and created confident institutions. Zelenskyy's leadership role has been essential, but Ukraine's progress is not solely dependent on one person.
3.3 The Role of Allies
Ukrainians have a more balanced view of Zelenskyy compared to the international media, which is enthralled by his charismatic appeal. His assassination could leave allies unsure of what to do next, potentially adding to pressure for negotiations and compromise.
Volodymyr Zelenskyy's life is undoubtedly at risk, given his symbolic role in Ukraine's fight against Russia. However, the country is not solely dependent on one leader. With a well-prepared succession plan and a resilient nation united in purpose, Ukraine is prepared to face whatever challenges come its way. While the threat of assassination looms large, the resolve and determination of the Ukrainian people stand firm. Zelenskyy's life is a testament to the unyielding spirit of a nation fighting for its sovereignty and freedom.
Summarised from the original article by - politico.eu
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