In recent weeks, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has been contradicting the US narrative concerning a potential Russian invasion of Ukraine, and his comments are angering Western officials.
US and European officials told The Washington Post that Zelensky’s calls for calm are a cause for concern. After speaking with President Biden last week, Zelensky held a long press conference where he said Western leaders were creating a “panic” by claiming Russia is preparing to invade.
Earlier in January, Biden suggested the US and NATO might not have a coordinated response if Russia makes a “minor incursion” into Ukraine.
Zelensky responded on Twitter and wrote, “We want to remind the great powers that there are no minor incursions and small nations.” A senior US official who spoke anonymously to the Post called Zelensky’s response “mind-boggling.”
“We’re his most important ally and he’s poking us in the eye and creating daylight between Washington and Kyiv,” the US official said. “It’s self-sabotage more than anything else.”
Since coming into office in 2019, Zelensky has maintained the Ukrainian government’s pro-Western stance that has been the norm since the US-backed coup in 2014. The fact that his frustration elicits such a response from a US official demonstrates how much control Washington expects to have over Kyiv.
Ukrainian officials continue to contradict claims from the US government and US media outlets. On Saturday, CNN and Reuters reported that the US has seen “indications” Russia has sent blood supplies near Ukraine’s border, signaling invasion plans. But Ukraine strongly denied the report, calling it “psychological warfare” meant to create “panic.”