Blinken Justifies Zelensky’s Decision To Cancel Ukrainian Elections

The secretary of state made an unannounced visit to Ukraine on Tuesday

Secretary of State Antony Blinken made an unannounced visit to Ukraine on Tuesday and delivered a speech where he justified President Volodymyr Zelensky’s decision to postpone elections.

Presidential elections were due to be held in March, but they weren’t, and Zelensky will remain in office after his term ends on May 20. Ukrainian parliamentary elections were scheduled to be held last year in October, but they were also canceled.

Zelensky and other Ukrainian officials have justified the decision by pointing to Ukraine’s constitution, which prohibits elections during martial law. Martial law was first declared when Russia invaded and has been extended since. However, at one point, Zelensky made it clear that he could hold a vote if he wanted to.

Last year, Zelensky said that he could hold elections if the US and other Western countries paid for them and if Ukrainian legislators agreed to amend the constitution. He later ruled out the idea and there’s been no pressure from Ukraine’s Western backers to hold a vote despite the claims that the proxy war is a fight for democracy.

In a speech at the Kyiv Polytechnic Institute, Blinken said the US and Europe had been helping Ukraine build “democratic pillars,” including “free and fair elections,” but said a vote can only happen when the “conditions” are right.

“That’s why we’re working with the government and civil society groups to shore up Ukraine’s election infrastructure. That way, as soon as Ukrainians agree that conditions allow, all Ukrainians – all Ukrainians, including those displaced by Russia’s aggression – can exercise their right to vote. People in Ukraine and around the world can have confidence that the voting process is free, fair, secure,” Blinken said.

Gen. Valery Zaluzhny, Ukraine’s former commander-in-chief who was recently appointed ambassador to the UK, has long been rumored to be a potential presidential candidate in a future election, although he hasn’t announced his intention to run.

Earlier this year, a poll in Ukraine found Zelensky would lose to Zaluzhny in a presidential election. The poll found that 41% favored Zaluzhny in a first-round election, while only 23.7% would vote for Zelensky.

Author: Dave DeCamp

Dave DeCamp is the news editor of, follow him on Twitter @decampdave.