The Ukrainian president has reportedly claimed there may be Moscow-inspired mass protests in Kiev.
© AP Photo / Efrem LukatskyThis has been the second time in less than a week that the Ukrainian leader has told Western media that a third "Maidan" is being plotted against him
Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky told journalists on Thursday that he has received tips about a Russian influence campaign aimed at destabilizing his government, according to a Bloomberg report. He claimed that various intelligence agencies had informed him about the purported operation.
Ukraine's top leadership has experienced divisions in recent months, with a series of publications in the Western press, based on leaks from Kiev staffers, describing Zelensky as calcified in pursuing an unrealistic goal of pushing Russia out of all territories claimed by Kiev.
His office has also publicly clashed with one of the country's top generals, Valery Zaluzhny, who said earlier this month that the hostilities had reached a stalemate and that he expected no breakthrough for Kiev.
reported on Friday that Zelensky claims to have received information from Ukrainian and allied intelligence services warning him about a "disinformation plan known internally as 'Maidan 3'" meant to play on fractures in civil society and foment insurrection.
Maidan means "square" in Ukrainian. Maidan 1 and 2 are the terms for the mass protests that took place in 2004 and 2014, respectively, primarily in Kiev's Independence Square. Both were directed against Viktor Yanukovich, the former president whose political support base was in what was then the majority Russian-speaking eastern portion of the country, but which joined Russia in a series of referendums in 2022.
The 2004 protest was mostly peaceful and successfully overturned Yanukovich's victory in that year's presidential race. On the other hand, the 2014 demonstration occurred while Yanukovich was in office, forcing him to flee the country and resign from his post as armed rioters targeted his home.The violent uprising in 2014, Maidan 2, was backed by the West and empowered nationalist forces in the country. Moscow has described the policies of the successive government in post-coup Kiev as discriminatory against ethnic Russians and detrimental to Russia's national security.
Zelensky was elected on a promise of reconciliation with Donbass rebels but caved into the pressure of pro-Maidan nationalists, who threatened him with mass protests. Now, he believes Russia is seeking to provoke chaos and division in his country and topple his government. Bloomberg quoted him as saying: "Maidan is coup for them (Moscow), so the operation is understandable."
Earlier this month, a profile of the Ukrainian president in TIME
magazine cited his close aides as complaining about his unwavering pursuit of a military victory over Moscow, which the report called "verging on the messianic." One source in the article reportedly called Zelensky delusional.General Zaluzhny outlined his vision of the frontline situation in The Economist, stating that despite all the Western assistance, Ukrainian troops were unlikely to carry out a "deep and beautiful breakthrough."
The remark put into doubt Zelensky's assurances that the counteroffensive against Russia was progressing and reportedly fueled tension between his government and Kiev's military leadership.