Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky demanded that the US and EU taxpayers fork over more money if they want to see Ukraine hold elections next year.
In an interview released by his office on Sunday, Zelensky said he’d like to hold elections despite ongoing martial law in the country as long as the United States and the European Union pay for the election process.
elensky said he spoke with neocon Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), a staunch supporter of sending more aid to Ukraine.
“I told [Sen. Graham]: If the United States and Europe give us financial support…I’m sorry, I will not hold elections on credit, I will not take money from weapons and give it to elections either,” Zelensky said.
“But if you give me this financial support, if the parliamentarians realize that we need to do this, then let’s quickly change the legislation and, most importantly, let’s take risks together.”
“Observers should be in the trenches. I told him: observers must be sent to the frontline so that the elections are legitimate for us and for the whole world. And this is absolutely fair,” he added.
Zelensky went on about how expensive elections are, claiming that they normally cost at least 5 billion hryvnia ($135 million), and that millions of Ukrainians now abroad in Europe would have to vote, which requires voting infrastructure.
“We need help from Europe here, because Ukrainians today are mostly in the European Union. Polling stations must be opened there so that people can come. 7 million people have to vote. We do not have such infrastructural capacities – we need to provide appropriate opportunities there,” he said.
“How will the military be able to vote? Show me the infrastructure. No one has shown it yet. How will people abroad be able to vote? No one has shown me. There is a way out. I am ready for it. I am talking about this publicly now, I told [Graham], I have no secrets,” he added.
“We need an election in Ukraine next year. I want to see this country have a free and fair election even while it is under assault,” the president said.
Zelensky, a former comedian, was elected as president in 2019 with 73% of the vote after running on cracking down on corruption and normalizing relations with Russia.
Look how that worked out.
Elections have been suspended after Zelensky imposed martial law last year, which he extended until November 15, casting doubt over whether parliamentary elections, which are usually held in October, will happen. The presidential election usually takes place in March.