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Key takeaway from Ukraine peace talks in Paris is that Zelensky’s best friend is Putin

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It would be difficult to exaggerate the weakness of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s position. He is a political novice facing perhaps the most experienced and formidable statesmen in the world. Although an intelligent man, the former TV comedian says he likes to do things quickly.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, by contrast, is known for his extreme attention to detail and for his propensity to play a very long game.

Putin is not in a rush. Zelensky is, because time is not on Ukraine’s side. The country has avoided default by a whisker only by negotiating a new IMF loan to pay off the old one taken out five years ago and due for repayment this year.

The gas pipeline Nord Stream 2 is about to be completed, partly sidelining Ukraine as a transit country for European gas, thereby reducing both its political clout in Europe and, crucially, its revenue from transit fees. Zelensnky needs a new agreement with Gazprom by the end of this year, i.e. in the next three weeks. It is not yet in the bag.

The worst development for Ukraine, however, is in the US. Trump’s enemies, who are seeking to impeach him over Ukraine, are above all horrified at what they thought was Trump’s desire to stop arming the country.

When the director of European affairs at the US........

© RT.com