Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, responding to a U.S. senator’s urging to announce elections in 2024, said a wartime election could take place if partner countries shared the costs, Ukrainian lawmakers agreed to hold elections, and everyone went to the polls.
Currently, Zelensky contends that elections cannot be held in Ukraine because of martial law, which must be extended every 90 days. It is due to expire again on Nov. 15, after the normal October date for parliamentary polls but before the presidential elections, which would normally be held in March 2024.
Leading U.S. lawmakers visited Kyiv on Aug. 23, including Senator Lindsey Graham, who praised Kyiv’s fight against Russian President Vladimir Putin but said the country needed to show it was different by holding elections in wartime.
Zelensky, in a television interview with 1+1 anchor Natalia Moseichuk, said he had discussed the funding issue with Graham, including the need to change the law.
“I gave Lindsey a very simple and very quick answer,” he said. “He was very pleased with it. As long as our legislators are willing to do it.
Zelensky said that holding elections in peacetime costs 5 billion hryvnia ($135 million). “I don’t know how much is needed in wartime,” Zelensky added. “So I told him that if the U.S. and Europe provide financial support… I won’t take money from the military to use in elections. And this is stipulated by law.”
Zelensky said he told Graham that election observers would have to go into the trenches. “I told him: You and I should send observers to the frontlines so that we can have legitimate elections for us and for the whole world.
“Ukraine would also need help establishing additional access to voting for millions of people from abroad, especially from the European Union, he said. “There is a way out,” he said. “I’m ready for it.”
Graham, a Republican, told reporters during a briefing in a bunker with fellow senators Richard Blumenthal and Elizabeth Warren, both Democrats, that his message to Zelensky would be that they would fight to keep the flow of weapons “so you can win a war we can’t afford to lose.”