‘SERIOUS people’ in high places in the West are now discussing options for replacing Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky with someone else, Russian Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) Director Sergey Naryshkin, who also chairs the Russian Historical Society, told reporters on Monday.
‘These discussions are taking place in serious institutions and involve serious people, which means that there is something behind them,’ he said, when asked about the credibility of Western discussions concerning the potential removal of the Ukraine president.
In response to a question about who would be most likely to replace Zelensky, Naryshkin said: ‘I would rather not make such assessments.’
According to Naryshkin’s statement, released by the SVR on Monday, the intelligence agency is continuing to receive reliable reports that senior officials from leading Western countries are increasingly discussing the need to replace the incumbent Ukrainian president with someone else.
According to the SVR’s data, Western governments are considering Ukrainian Armed Forces Commander-in-Chief Valery Zaluzhny, former Ukrainian Presidential Advisor Alexey Arestovich (designated in Russia as a terrorist and extremist), Kiev Mayor Vitali Klitschko and Ukrainian Presidential Office Head Andrey Yermak as potential candidates to take Zelensky’s place.
Naryshkin stressed that, in the view of some Europeans, each of these individuals would be ‘capable of playing the role of a “Ukrainian Pilsudski,” creating a reliable “cordon sanitaire” between Russia and Europe for decades.
‘Such a scenario involves a ceasefire between Moscow and Kiev after the Ukrainian army completely loses its offensive potential once and for all,’ the top intelligence official explained.
The SVR chief noted that the main reasons driving the West’s aspiration to replace the Ukrainian leader include both ‘Zelensky’s unfulfilled promises to conquer Russia on the battlefield’ as well as ‘the Ukrainian president’s infinite insolence in interacting with his foreign partners’ accompanied by ‘boundless nepotism and corruption’, the scale of which ‘is shocking even to Western politicians who are well-versed in such things.
‘Yet the main thing is Zelensky’s lack of any ability to manoeuvre in the conflict with Russia in the interests of Washington and its allies.
‘The West thinks that the Ukrainian leader has gone too far in building up his own image as an uncompromising, hawkish advocate for waging war against Moscow until a victorious finale.
‘If necessary, he would not be able to become a party to negotiations with Russia in the interests of temporarily freezing the conflict and rescuing the Russophobic Kiev regime,’ the Russian intelligence chief said, adding:
‘According to assessments by the American intelligence community, given the unfolding situation in the Ukrainian theatre of military operations, the need for this (replacing Zelensky) may emerge in the near future,’ he concluded.
The Ukrainian conflict will end with talks with the West, Russian Ambassador at Large for Kiev regime crimes, Rodion Miroshnik, said in an interview on CTV television.
‘Negotiations will definitely take place; all clashes necessarily end with talks. Clearly, negotiations will not be with puppets,’ the diplomat noted.
‘The West hasn’t so far demonstrated any desire to come to terms. They have not said yet that they are ready to come to the negotiating table,’ Miroshnik said.
Conditions to start negotiations will come ‘when sponsors are exhausted, when political ambitions settle down, when the Ukrainian people eventually understand that the administration currently in Ukraine is not the actual Ukrainian administration,’ the diplomat stressed.
- Russia will hold a presidential election from March 15 to 17, 2024.
The Russian Defence Ministry, the Russian Federal Security Service and the heads of the country’s four new regions believe it is possible to hold presidential elections in the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics, and the Kherson and Zaporozhye regions, the Russian Central Elections Commission said.
The statement follows consultations held by Central Election Commission (CEC) Deputy Chairman Nikolay Bulayev, Secretary Natalia Budarina, representatives of the Russian Defence Ministry and the Russian Federal Security Service, as well as the leadership of the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics, and the Zaporozhye and Kherson regions.
‘Today, December 11, 2023, the CEC of Russia held consultations on the possibility of holding presidential elections on the territory of the four regions where martial law has been imposed.
‘All parties to the consultations believe it is possible to hold elections for the head of state on the territory of these constituents of the Russian Federation,’ the commission said in a statement.
According to law, the CEC must make a decision whether to hold elections in the region where martial law is imposed after consultations with the Defence Ministry, the security service and the highest official of the region within five days from the date when the Federation Council decides to hold national elections.
Over 100 foreign media campaigns have been launched to convince the public that Russia’s upcoming presidential election is illegitimate, head of the State Duma’s (the lower house of parliament) Commission Investigating Foreign Interference in Russia’s Domestic Affairs, Vasily Piskaryov, said.
‘Control centres based in the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, Sweden, Poland and Ukraine have stepped up their activities to discredit our election.
‘Over 100 media campaigns launched by them are working to prepare the foreign audience for the move to declare Russia’s presidential election illegitimate. These are the same outlets on a mission to discredit our armed forces as well,’ he said at a meeting with Igor Borisov, a member of Russia’s CEC.
According to Piskaryov, NATO countries have intensified their intelligence agencies’ activities and ‘agents of influence’ aimed at gathering data about problems facing Russia’s regions, while ‘special think tanks (in the US and the UK) are assessing their impact on protest moods ahead of the election.’
‘The Central Election Commission has also been recording similar activities by various OSCE institutions, which are actively interfering in Russia’s domestic affairs,’ Borisov pointed out. He warned that attempts at election interference ‘will be made throughout the entire election campaign.’
According to Piskaryov, the commission is also seeing efforts by opposition activists based in other countries who ‘are trying to sow discord among patriotic members of Russian communities abroad.’
Participants in the meeting decided to set up a special monitoring group to detect and prevent attempted foreign interference in the election campaign, ‘which will be tasked with ensuring electoral sovereignty and people’s right to freely express their will.’
Russian President Vladimir Putin has not discussed his intention to seek re-election in 2024 with his foreign counterparts, Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov told TASS last Friday.
‘No,’ Peskov said, when asked whether Putin had spoken to any foreign leaders about the move during his recent numerous communications and whether he had told them about his plans to run for re-election.
Earlier last Friday, Putin agreed to run again for president in the March 2024 election.
He was asked to do so by the Donetsk People’s Republic parliament speaker Artyom Zhoga when Putin was meeting with participants in a Kremlin ceremony honouring Heroes of the Fatherland Day.
Zhoga later recounted the conversation to reporters saying: ‘Putin is running for president for the fifth time. If he wins, he will serve as head of state for another six years, until 2030.’
Last Friday’s announcement fell on December 8th, the day after the date of elections was set by the Federation Council.
According to law, presidential hopefuls have 20 to 25 days from the Federation Council’s decision to submit registration paperwork to the Central Election Commission, depending on whether the candidate is running as an independent or represents a political party.
This time, the constitutional restriction prohibiting a president from serving more than two consecutive terms does not apply.
Amendments that were made to the Constitution in 2020 stipulated that the sitting president at the time could run in the next election, regardless of any previous terms.