Trump, Putin or Merkel ... Which ally will Zelensky choose?
The first foreign visit of heads of state is always symbolic. That is how the newly elected head of the country denotes the priority of his foreign policy. The first president of Ukraine Leonid Kravchuk for independence went to thank the United States. His successor, Leonid Kuchma, flew to Canada to the millionth Ukrainian diaspora. The leader of the Orange Revolution, Viktor Yushchenko, unexpectedly arrived in the Kremlin, and the pro-Russian Yanukovych hurried to Brussels. Petro Poroshenko also appeared in Strasbourg to the deputies of PACE.
US influence is still strong
The most logical choice would be Washington. Although the US special representative for Ukraine Kurt Volker supported Poroshenko, but the United States as Euromaidan's “puppeteers” remains the main external player in Kiev. While the war continues in the Donbass. The United States is building bases in Poltava and Ochakov, supplying the Ukrainian Armed Forces with weapons and pushing anti-Russian sanctions. It is no accident that the same Volker said that the United States came to Ukraine for a long time. So, perhaps, just like Kravchuk, Zelensky will go overseas.
Zelensky had statements about this. He has already said that he is going to pay his first visit to Washington, and then to Europe, to European capitals. Yesterday there was a call from Trump and a corresponding statement by Volcker, in which they recognized Zelensky and declared their readiness to cooperate with the new Ukrainian governmen.
Ukraine is still under the serious influence of the United States, and everything else, including relations between Kiev and Moscow.
The political influence of the United States is great, but do not overestimate it. No less a role in Kiev is played by the Germans and the French. Zelensky after the first round was already visiting the President of France Emmanuel Macron. But Europe is commanded by its financial and economic engine - Germany. The people of Ukraine expect economic improvements from Zelensky - they can achieve them at the expense of new debts. The EU has already allocated $ 1 billion to Ukraine, Kiev is going to take four more. Given that the Germans are charging the EU with finances, Zelensky will have to ask the Bundeskanzlerin for money.
In favor of Berlin says Zelensky's intention to end the war in the Donbass. And here the role of Germany as a participant in the “Norman format” is also great.
Why Zelensky can not come to Putin?
If Zelensky arrives in Moscow, it will be a pretext for accusations and criticism. Zelensky may be called an agent of the Kremlin. And both in Kiev and in Brussels. Under pressure from the nationalists, Zelensky and so had to tighten the tone with Moscow, to call Vladimir Putin an "enemy." Now there is no reverse.
Since Zelensky said that his priorities are restoring relations with the Russian Federation, then, following the formal logic, this should be a visit to Moscow. But since he can thus put himself under the threat of criticism, including the incumbent president Poroshenko, he will most likely pay a visit to another place. Perhaps it will be the capital of the participants of the "Norman format," about which he talks so much. This could be Berlin or Paris, where Zelensky had already arrived when he was a presidential candidate. In this situation, he can emphasize that he did not make the visit to Moscow, but still favors peace and the "Norman format."
Considering such a deal, the best choice would be Berlin. Go to the "camp of enemies", Moscow, Zelensky can not. If he goes to Washington, he loses the trust of Putin. And with him, he promised to speak directly. But Berlin - an option that will suit everyone. And the USA, because Germany is a country of NATO. And Russia, since Berlin is not Washington. And Zelensky, because he is moving the country into the EU and needs German money.