Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Zelensky’s top aide withdraws insult to India

Mikhail Podoliak

The top adviser to Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky, Mikhail Podoliak, blamed “Russian propaganda” on Wednesday for reaction to his remarks about China and India having “low intellectual potential” and allegedly not understanding the world properly.

“Classic Russian propaganda: take it out of context, distort the meaning, scale it up to separate target audiences with conflict provocation,” Podoliak said on X, formerly Twitter. 

He did not, however, deny saying what he said in a widely shared interview with a Ukrainian outlet on Tuesday. 

“The problem with these countries is that they do not analyze the consequences of their own moves. These countries, unfortunately, have low intellectual potential,” Podoliak had said, adding that just because India has a lunar exploration program, that “does not mean that this nation understands what the modern world precisely is.”

His remarks drew criticism from many Indians on X, while the Chinese Foreign Ministry demanded a clarification.

On Wednesday, attempting to explain what he actually meant, Podoliak argued that “Türkiye, India, China and other regional powers are increasingly and clearly justified in claiming global roles in the modern world.” 

However, he said, “the global world is much broader than even the most thoughtful regional national interests. The global world is based on stability and predictability, on rationality and strategy, on international law and clear rules of the game,” which he insisted Russia is trying to undermine.

“One way or another, it is irrational to ignore this due to situational and regional economic interests, as it has long-term consequences. The sooner Russia loses, the more chances the world has to return to stability and the rules of the game. The task of the great powers is to accelerate this moment,” he added.

Emerging as Zelensky’s most influential adviser after the resignation of Aleksey Arestovich in January, Podoliak has a long record of lashing out at countries, organizations and public figures seen as insufficiently supportive of Ukraine’s cause. 

Podoliak’s most recent target was SpaceX head Elon Musk, who in his telling “enabled evil” by denying Ukraine the use of Starlink satellites – which Musk has provided Kiev free of charge – to attack Crimea with drones. He has also denounced Pope Francis as an “instrument of Russian propaganda” after the head of the Roman Catholic Church had kind words for Russia’s historical legacy.

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