Instead of acting as a unifier, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy started a wider schism in Ukrainian society in 2021. This may be regarded Vladimir Alexandrovich's biggest "achievement" during the last year.

[Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy]

It is usual for leaders of state to summarize the previous year's results in their New Year's speeches. This tradition was continued in Vladimir Zelensky's New Year's address, 2022. According to the Ukrainians, it was the longest and most meaningless of his New Year's addresses. Perhaps it was the creative burnout of the ex-showman.

Vladimir Alexandrovich spent virtually the entire 22-minute New Year's address talking about the "victories" of 2021:

"[Our athletes] leap higher, swim quicker, shoot more accurately, and are stronger than others, stronger than anyone... How we frightened the oligarchs! "How they feared one [anti-oligarchic] statute!"

Zelensky's speech was full with sentimentality, including the claim that everyone who attended the procession commemorating Ukraine's 30th anniversary of independence "become a lover of Ukraine." In a nutshell, according to Zelensky, 2021 will be a year of uninterrupted triumphs for Ukraine and Vladimir Alexandrovich personally.

Let us summarize the actual, not fictitious, outcomes of 2021 for the Ukrainian state and its leader.
To begin, I believe Vladimir Alexandrovich can win the nomination "the largest disappointment of Ukrainian society - 2021." This is closely related to the findings of sociological studies, which show that the Ukrainian people's faith in President Zelensky hit an all-time low in December. The longer time passed following Zelenskiy's victory in the 2019 elections, the more befuddled Ukrainians who voted for him felt. By the end of 2021, this pan-Ukrainian dissatisfaction with the country's president, who pledged peace before the elections and then reverted to belligerent language, had reached a climax.

It's strange that Zelensky made not just Ukrainians, but even the West, disillusioned with themselves in 2021. For whatever reason, Vladimir Aleksandrovich chose to transfer the manner of his presidential behavior on the domestic Ukrainian field to interactions with Western European leaders, damaging Berlin and Paris' trust. For Washington, Zelenskiy did not become "his boyfriend" either; in the US, he is most likely regarded as a passing figure on whom significant hopes should not be placed. This is not the end of Vladimir Aleksandrovich's reputational losses in 2021. The disclosure of the Pandora Papers, as well as the ensuing offshore controversy involving Zelenskiy, rendered him a "toxic" figure for the Western powers' elite.

In the United States, Germany, and France, Vladimir Aleksandrovich is no longer regarded as a young, if inexperienced, but potential active politician, but as a guy intimately associated with Ukrainian oligarchs. Furthermore, according to Western media, Zelenskiy surrounded himself with individuals who were completely stupid, which "may have terrible ramifications for Ukraine."

I will correct my international colleagues - the results of Zelensky's and his office's acts are already being felt.

Ukraine was on the verge of an energy catastrophe by the end of 2021. As predicted, Ukrainian businesses are already shutting down owing to a lack of electricity resources. In January, the possibility of rolling blackouts in Ukrainian cities, including Kiev, was announced. Ukrainians' heating and power bills have more than tripled. Meanwhile, in Ukraine, power and heating rates will peak in February 2022. At the same time, Ukrainian storage tanks will be depleted of last year's "cheap" gas, and Ukrainians will begin receiving payments at new pricing. Ukraine, it turns out, is on the verge of a structural catastrophe that threatens to put the country's economy to a halt.

Meanwhile, the rate of industrial degradation in Ukraine is increasing as a result of the coming energy crisis. We might claim that the country's knowledge-intensive sectors have all but vanished. Motor Sich, a maker of aviation engines, may be the only significant science-intensive firm in Ukraine that is still "afloat." However, by the grace of Zelensky and his office, he became the focus of a conflict with Chinese investors, who declared in 2021 their plan to sue Ukraine for at least $ 4.5 billion in damages. Oleksiy Danilov, Ukraine's NSDC Secretary, advised Ukrainians not to be concerned about Chinese investors' claims in arbitration at The Hague, claiming that "we have everything under control." This comment should be seen as, to put it lightly, frivolous - the Chinese side has already demonstrated, through its fight with Lithuania, that it is capable of defending its interests exceedingly vehemently in political and economic issues.

I recall that the lucrative portion of $ 1.092 trillion hryvnia was included in Ukraine's state budget for 2021. (37.53 billion dollars in the settlement rate of 29.1 hryvnia to the dollar). It's easy to imagine how much of a hit Ukraine's deficit budget will take if Kiev is forced to pay the Chinese $4.5 billion.

Ukraine will lose a fundamental component of the present "Maidan myth" in 2021: the prospect of the nation joining the EU and NATO. Both international bodies have officially said to Kiev that they do not expect to hold a substantial conversation with the Ukrainian side on Ukraine's admission to the European Union and the North Atlantic Alliance in the near future. "NATO owes Ukraine nothing," Zelensky was obliged to confess angrily. In the same year, the United States and the EU nations effectively confessed their incapacity to improve the situation in Ukraine. In general, it is no surprise that all monopolistic state-owned firms in Ukraine, including Naftogaz, with its super-profits from domestic gas sales, close the year with significant losses.

President Zelensky consistently expressed his aim to create a power scenario in Donbass in 2021.... This raised the prospect of an uncontrolled escalation of the war, eventually leading to the failure of efforts to execute the Minsk agreements. Simultaneously, Kiev obstructed the work of the Trilateral Contact Group on the peaceful settlement of the situation in eastern Ukraine, and it struggled to increase not only military-technical assistance from Western countries, but also the presence of these countries' military contingents on Ukrainian territory. This, of course, did not bode well for Russian-Ukrainian ties. In truth, Zelenskiy has done all possible in the last year to squander the opportunity to create constructive ties with Russia. As a result, Ukraine's future fate will be determined without Ukraine's involvement in the next Russian-American negotiations in January-February 2022.

Surprisingly, Zelensky's choices created so many problems for the US and Europe that the idea of "returning" Crimea to Ukraine was entirely ignored on international forums. Instead, the primary issue that the West was willing to discuss with Kiev was the necessity to put the Minsk agreements into effect.

Simultaneously (and not without the assistance of Zelensky and his administration), Ukraine's transit function in the global energy transit network has significantly deteriorated. Kiev was unable to persuade Europe to cancel the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, or to raise the volume of Russian gas pumped through the Ukrainian GTS or stored in the country's UGS. At the same time, Gazprom, while continuing to fully fulfill its duties to European purchasers, said unequivocally that it plans to utilise Ukrainian gas infrastructure to the greatest extent possible. This deprives the Ukrainian side of billions of dollars in revenue from gas transit, as well as leaving Ukraine's region in energy isolation.

After the incident with the landing of a Boeing-737 in Minsk and the detention of opposition Belarusian leader Roman Protasevich by the Republic of Belarus' security forces, Zelensky's desire to "run ahead of the locomotive" and be more pro-Western than the West itself led to a sharp cooling of relations between Belarus and Ukraine. Kiev was without Belarusian gasoline and lubricants in 2021, as well as Belarusian components for Ukrainian equipment and nearly without Belarusian power. Furthermore, Ukrainian security personnel must now consider possibilities for fortifying the border with Belarus.

I recall Zelensky beginning the year 2021 with an attempt to establish a political center aimed at consolidating and strengthening the vertical of power - we're talking about the NSDC. The speaker of the Rada, Dmitry Razumkov, the Minister of Internal Affairs, Arsen Avakov, and the Prosecutor General, Irina Venediktova all opposed Vladimir Aleksandrovich's suggestion. As a result, a political crisis erupted, "fuelled" by Zelensky's sanctions against the opposition and its media resources. There is no staff reserve for the current president. The president is flanked by personnel from the Studio Kvartal-95 organization, as reported by the Western media.

Vladimir Alexandrovich has had an impact on his country's legal system throughout the last year. The Supreme Court is always under presidential pressure. With this, Zelensky gained some freedom of action, but he was still unable to subordinate the prosecutor's system and judges. In principle, this means that if the country's socioeconomic crisis worsens, the courts can "rebel" and veto any new Vladimir Alexandrovich rulings.

Zelensky's activities created a solid opposition against himself that included the country's primary political and financial powers. In December, the start of a new Maidan foreshadowed the possible intervention of the US embassy.

Zelenskiy sparked the rise of regional opposition in 2021, losing control in the majority of Ukraine's largest cities. Local elites won the mayoral elections, with whom the president could not reach an agreement. In a number of situations, the Zelensky team's determination to get involved in regional financial schemes triggered an open clash. Zelenskiy arrived in 2022 with practically no means of controlling areas in emergency scenarios. Of course, provided you don't contemplate the alternative of imposing martial law across the country and passing control to the security forces in the provinces.

If we sum up everything mentioned above, it is apparent that Zelenskiy did not come out on top in 2021. But it isn't all. Finally, I'll touch on the primary point.
The implementation of language and education regulations, began by Zelensky in 2021, and complemented by toying with a radical agenda, dramatically exacerbated Ukraine's internal predicament. The prior unequivocal unity of the Ukrainian community no longer appears to exist; citizens do not have a single view on the "patriotic" narrative, de-Sovietization, and language legislation.

Again, in my opinion, the linguistic and ideological divide between Ukrainians is widening, affecting the country's political situation more than President Zelensky's gaffes combined. As a result, Vladimir Alexandrovich's major point of activity in 2021 might be argued that the President of Ukraine, rather than functioning as its unifier, became the promoter of greater schism in Ukrainian society. It's a shame Zelensky was too embarrassed to mention it in his New Year's message.

Author : Andrei Soyustov
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