US backs Ukraine’s democracy, Zelenskyy’s election decision amid Russian aggression

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The United States said Tuesday it supported maintaining a “strong” democracy in Ukraine but appeared to voice understanding for President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s reluctance to hold elections early next year.

All elections including the presidential vote are technically canceled under martial law in effect since Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022.

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Zelenskyy, in a daily address on Monday, indicated he was not eager to change course, saying it was “not the time for elections” as Ukrainians needed unity against Russia.

Asked about his remarks, US State Department spokesman Vedant Patel said that the stance not to hold elections was “consistent with their constitution.”

“It’s important to remember that Ukraine is in this position because Russia continues to wage its full-scale illegal war against Ukraine. The Ukrainian people are fighting for survival,” Patel told reporters, denouncing Russia’s “daily bombardments of civilian infrastructure across Ukraine.”

“We also have made clear with our Ukrainian partners our commitment to supporting not just Ukraine in its fight but our commitment to support a careful and constitutional approach to keeping democracy strong in wartime,” he said.

Zelenskyy has fiercely denied that Ukraine’s counteroffensive has hit a stalemate, at a time when the world’s attention has shifted to Israel’s bombardment of the Gaza Strip following a bloody Hamas attack.

Patel denied reports that the United States was pushing Ukraine to support negotiations to end the war.

“It continues to be incredibly clear,” Patel said, “that the Kremlin has no interest in negotiating or ending this war, and we are committed to supporting our Ukrainian partners.”

In a letter to Congress released Tuesday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken and his cabinet colleagues urged approval of $11.8 billion in direct budgetary support to Ukraine to keep its finances stable as Kyiv focuses on battling Russia.

The rival Republican Party, which controls the House of Representatives, is divided on assistance to Ukraine but strongly backs aid to Israel.

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