The confrontation between the President of Ukraine and the Ukrainian government is deepening.
On June 27th President Zelensky accused Pavlo Klimkin, the foreign affairs minister of Ukraine, of making statements on behalf of Ukraine without discussing the issue with the president.
This refers to the communication between Ukraine and Russia over the fate of 24 Ukrainian sailors captured on 25 November 2018 in the Black Sea. According to the MFA of Russia, Russia notified both the International Tribunal for the Law of Sea and the Embassy of Ukraine to Russia on the interim measures to implement the ruling of the Tribunal. According to the Izvestia newspaper, the communication of Russia to Ukraine and the Sea Tribunal contained a proposal for possibilities to return the sailors to Ukraine.
Minister Klimkin responded to the Russian communication the following day without notifying the President or discussing the content of the response on behalf of Ukraine. UNIAN agency quotes President Zelensky as stating, ”I, President of Ukraine, of which I remind everyone, especially Mr. Klimkin, did not see our response to the note of the Russian Federation because Mr. Klimkin does not consider it necessary to discuss such issues with the President of Ukraine, and this is a matter of national security, a matter of our citizens’ lives. This is all the preserve of any president”. President Zelensky continued saying “such actions could jeopardize the return of our sailors.”
In response to tough criticism by the President, Minister Klimkin stated that the MFA Ukraine is is fully empowered to exchange such correspondence. Klimkin stressed that the response note demands that Russia carry out the ruling of the international tribunal on the release of the Ukrainian sailors. Speaking to Ukrainska Pravda, Klimkin responded to a question on whether the minister’s personal attitude to the president was the reason for not consulting Zelensky, stating that he “doesn’t comment on emotions”, but added: “I see that I have tactical and strategic differences on countering Russian aggression … Therefore, in these circumstances, I do not consider it possible to help anymore”.
In his statement made through Facebook, Minister Klimkin underlined that in the response note he sent to Russia all proposals made by Russia had been rejected.
Forbes Russia reports that President Zelensky in the same video appeal turned to President Putin in Russian to release the Ukrainian sailors, saying ”We all have children. Give the children back to their parents.”
President Zelensky held an urgent briefing with journalists on June 27. He started by pointing out to journalists that he was ”very emotional”. The confrontation between the President and Minister Klimkin was the main point of the briefing. He also commented on the decision of PACE to restore the rights of the delegation of Russia at the PACE, accusing the Ukrainian delegation for the failure and insisting that Germany and France clearly knew that the decision had been made long before. Answering the question from a journalist, the President commented on the moves by Viktor Medvedchuk to negotiate the release of four Ukrainian captives in Donetsk: ”He is aware of my attitude on this issue… I do not understand why we should have intermediaries…. Ask him why the question of the return of prisoners on his part is being raised only ahead of elections”.
President Zelensky has made several attempts to push for Minister Klimkin’s resignation. The Parliament refused to accept the resignation.