If we continue to analyze the first steps of Volodymyr Zelensky as a president, I would like to talk about his rhetoric and actions regarding Ukraine’s cooperation with IMF and NATO. Obviously, this issue causes hot debates in Ukrainian society. It is interesting to see how Zelensky would fulfill the expectations of the heterogeneous cluster that voted for him. Anyway, he cannot have a permanent excuse that it was a joke.
Many must remember that Zelensky had a pre-election program, and there were a few words about NATO. “Ukraine’s movement to NATO and other security associations is a pledge of our security, in which I believe and which should be confirmed through an all-Ukrainian referendum," it said. The president was eager to discuss every issue through the all-Ukrainian referendum, especially when this issue was about joining NATO. At least for those who have access to the Internet and who use social media.
Later in his interview, Zelensky once again confirmed his intentions about the Alliance. "NATO [issue] must go through a referendum," he stated.
The "referendum" idea has slowly evaporated after the elections. Zelensky has already declared that he would firmly lead Ukraine to Europe and NATO. And after the meeting with Jens Stoltenberg, the Secretary-General of the Alliance, the president noted: Ukraine to become NATO’s member after some time. But what about the referendum? But what about election promises?
Well, okay, he deceived that part of the people who are against NATO, let God be with him. This is not something new for Ukrainian politics. But experts and observers cannot get Zelensky’s motive when he said in the very first days of his presidency about the way to someplace, where we are not wanted yet. After all, with this statement, he ruled out any opportunity to reach an agreement with Russia on Donbas peace question. Why he voiced the things, which were not required at that moment? Indeed, we will not join NATO in the next ten years. And while we are not there, it is possible to settle matters with Russia. I am sure that this would increase the chances of Ukraine to join the Alliance in the future. But in the end, there is neither NATO nor reconciliation with Russia.
A similar situation occurred with the International Monetary Fund. If we recall all Zelensky’s statements on the IMF before the elections, he insisted on revising the conditions, in particular, the amount of interest. And if we remember The Servant of the People TV show, which by and large replaced the Zelensky’s election program, he (as a TV show character, - ed.) proposed paying all the debts and stopping cooperation with the IMF. After all, when voting for Zelensky, many voters did not remember any of his words, but the script of the series with a mountain of gold on Maidan.
Zelensky’s position was quite short. It lasted exactly until the meeting with the IMF mission, which took place on May 28. Then it turned out that "the vision of the country's development and cooperation with the International Monetary Fund of Zelensky’s team completely coincides with how the IMF sees it." Zelensky’s cooperation with the IMF is not going to stop and will not require any adjustments, nor does it intend to revise the conditions.
Moreover, on the eve of his visit to Germany on July 18, Zelensky gave an interview to German outlet, in which he stated that he would continue to develop relations with the IMF. It should be recalled, perhaps, that one of the conditions of the Fund was to increase the cost of gas for Ukrainian consumers to the market price. It turns out that we are waiting for the next increase in utility tariffs this autumn. In the end, Zelensky has already warned that he had joked about the tariff reduction, so nothing ventured, nothing gained.
The paradox is that people voted for a review of relations with the IMF and that their opinion on the NATO issues would be asked. But it turned out that Zelensky did not intend to change anything in foreign policy and in relations with international organizations. On July 21, we will see the reaction of the voters.