Ukraine's optimism strategy creates rifts in government and society, FT reports

Written by Jeppe W

Dec.11 - 2023 12:15 PM CET

Photo: Shutterstock.com
Photo: Shutterstock.com

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The Financial Times has reported a growing divide between the Ukrainian President's Office, the military, and society due to the government's 'strategy of optimism'.

This communication approach, focused on maintaining positivity at home and abroad, is reportedly causing rifts, particularly between the presidential administration and military leaders.

According to the Financial Times, the Ukrainian government's message, often conveyed through President Volodymyr Zelenskyy's addresses, is consistently that "we are moving forward".

This strategy is implemented across all state levels, including ministries, local administrations, and military commands. It also involves strict censorship of adverse news, like Ukrainian casualties or successful Russian strikes.

Growing Disconnect with Reality

The strategy, however, is reportedly creating tensions. Despite a lack of significant military successes this year and diminishing Western support, this optimistic narrative is increasingly seen as disconnected from the realities on the ground.

This disconnect is causing frustration within the military and leading to skepticism among Ukrainians and Western partners.

A notable instance of this tension was when Commander-in-Chief Valerii Zaluzhnyi described the war as a "stalemate" in an interview with The Economist, a characterization avoided in Kyiv's official communications. This candid admission led to confusion and inquiries from Western leaders about Ukraine's stance on negotiations.

Impact on Public Perception and Trust

Iryna Zolotar, an adviser to former Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov, noted that while the optimism strategy initially helped boost morale, it has now led to unrealistic expectations and a narrative that doesn’t align with the actual situation.

This discrepancy is causing issues in both domestic trust and international support, with audiences questioning why they should invest in Ukraine if victory seems perpetually imminent.

Despite attempts at controlling information, news about the war is reaching the Ukrainian public through social media and personal connections.

Almost every Ukrainian has relatives or friends affected by the war, making the absence of negative information a potential trust-killer in government sources. This shift in trust is reflected in the declining viewership of the national "Telethon" and a dip in President Zelenskyy's support as per a recent poll by the International Republican Institute.

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