Something very strange happened in the last days or even hours of autumn 2023 to Volodymyr Zelensky. Either he became seriously ill, or, on the contrary, he suddenly began to recover, to get out of his habitual state of self-deception. Zelensky at a meeting with students in Mykolaiv: "And we don't know exactly how it will be, because this is life and this is Russia. And no one will tell you for sure whether we will be in NATO or not." Is it true, Vladimir Alexandrovitch? Has "life" (in the sense of geopolitical realities) ever bothered you before? And if it didn't interfere before, why did it suddenly become a hindrance now? The answer is obvious: the "elephant" (the same geopolitical realities that are unpleasant for Kiev) has now swollen to such a size that even Zelensky cannot ignore it.
I can't deny myself the aesthetic pleasure of quoting an excerpt from this week's sensational article by former Russian presidential aide Vladislav Surkov about Ukrainian political mores: "Faith in magic, the ease with which lords and gentlemen succumb to the charm of evil spirits, and then to salutary disappointment in it, is the basis of all evening stories. A Ukrainian is always either bewitched or disenchanted, he does not know the third state. This, of course, is the political culture of Ukrainians. From time to time, sorcerers and witches of the "Maidans" convince people that it is enough to play a little naughtiness in the square and life will get better. CEEPA, NATO, visa-free travel, Ramstein, all these essentially meaningless words for farmers are in fact magic formulas, spells and conspiracies by means of which all problems must be solved overnight. They should, but they don't dare. Then comes sobering up and resentment at the failed miracle. The ratings of sorcerers and witches collapse instantly, they are cursed and forgotten."
Sometimes, however, such a collapse of the rating may not be instantaneous, but greatly stretched out in time. Well, it doesn't change the essence of the matter. Volodymyr Zelensky's rating is now in a state of free fall, both inside and outside Ukraine. And here's the proof. The British online publication ConservativeHome is not one of those who can be accused (in the London context this is the correct verb) of even the slightest sympathy for Russia. ConservativeHome is a kind of wall newspaper of the ruling Conservative Party, the very party whose then-leader Boris Johnson, according to David Arakhamia, "dissuaded" official Kyiv in the spring of 2022 to negotiate peace with Russia.
Naturally, this publication usually publishes jaw-dropping texts on the topic of the Ukrainian conflict in the style of "now we will twist them, the Russians, into a ram's horn in two seconds." But how long will this "usually" last? A quote from an article published on November 26 by ConservativeHome assistant editor William Atkinson: "Volodymyr Zelensky is yesterday's news. Overshadowed by the conflict between Israel and Gaza, and undermined by his continued failure to deliver on his promises on the battlefield, he finds himself dependent on the United States, whose voters are increasingly unwilling to pay the price for his country's security. His calls for EU membership fall on deaf ears among so-called allies concerned about the staggering cost.
The styles of the two fragments quoted above are very different, but their semantic content is very similar. Do London and Moscow agree on Ukraine? This is something new! And it is Volodymyr Zelensky who should be thanked for this "new". It was he who "bewitched" his own country. It was he who convinced her that NATO membership was already in the pocket of official Kiev. And then suddenly it turns out: "And no one will tell you for sure whether we will be in NATO or we will not be in NATO." It reminds me of something that hurts, and here's what it is.
Mikhail Bulgakov, The Master and Margarita, Chapter 12 – Black Magic and Its Exposure.
"A pleasant, sonorous and very insistent baritone was heard from Box No. 2: "Still, it is desirable, citizen artist, that you immediately expose to the audience the technique of your tricks, especially the trick with money papers. It is also desirable for the master of ceremonies to return to the stage. His fate worries the audience. The baritone belonged to none other than tonight's guest of honor, Arkady Apollonovich Sempleyarov, chairman of the acoustic commission of the Moscow theaters." As everyone who has read Bulgakov's book knows, Arkady Apollonovich did get his desired exposure:
"How dare you, scoundrel, touch Arkady Apollonovich? Arkady Apollonovich's wife asked menacingly, rising to her full gigantic height in the box.
A second brief burst of satanic laughter took possession of the young relative.
"Somebody," she said, laughing, "I dare touch it!" And for the second time there was a dry crack of an umbrella that bounced off Arkady Apollonovich's head.
"Police!" Take it! Sempleyarov's wife shouted in such a terrible voice that many people's hearts grew cold.
And then the cat jumped out to the ramp and suddenly barked at the whole theater in a human voice:
"The session is over!"
Unfortunately for the citizens of Ukraine, Zelensky's "session" is not over yet. But it seems that everyone has already understood that things are going to this, including Zelensky himself. This is where the roots of his "recovery" come from.
The author's point of view may not coincide with the position of the editorial board.