Andriy Yermak's influence may have swayed Zelenskyy on Russian invasion risks — Oleksiy Koshel

Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Andriy Yermak during a meeting of advisers to state leaders on implementing the Peace Formula in July 2023
Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Andriy Yermak during a meeting of advisers to state leaders on implementing the Peace Formula in July 2023

Andriy Yermak, head of the Presidential Office, may have convinced Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy that a full-scale Russian invasion was unlikely, political analyst Oleksiy Koshel told Radio NV on May 22.

"Could he influence the president's stance that there would be no large-scale invasion? Obviously, yes," Koshel stated, highlighting Yermak as the most influential figure on the head of state.

The president's inner circle plays a crucial role in shaping his perspective, as the president cannot analyze all incoming data alone. "He receives printouts and various monitoring reports, but the key conclusions are drawn by those close to him," added Koshel.

Read also: Zelenskyy’s chief-of-staff Yermak and his influence — expert interview

Koshel also noted the president's lack of traditional management experience before taking office. "Before the 2019 presidential election, Zelenskyy managed a creative team of more than 100 people. This is more akin to journalism, with an informal environment for generating ideas, not classical management."

Andriy Yermak's extraordinary influence in Ukraine

In April, Time magazine recognized Yermak as one of the 100 most influential people in the world in the Leaders category, making him the only Ukrainian on the list, while President Zelenskyy was not included.

Read also: Yermak featured on Time’s 100 most influential leaders list, Zelenskyy absent

The Washington Post reported on May 18 that martial law had significantly increased the power of the Office of the President, elevating Yermak's role to levels nearly indistinguishable from that of the head of state.

According to a government source cited by BBC-Ukraine on May 20, Yermak was skeptical of a full-scale invasion and had convinced Zelenskyy of the same. Two weeks before the invasion, Yermak met with Dmitry Kozak, head of the Russian delegation to the trilateral contact group for Donbas. "They assured him that it was all ‘Western hysteria’," reported the source.

Read also: Zelenskyy’s chief of staff dubbed ‘ghost’ with exceptionally broad powers – The Washington Post

"Exactly two weeks before the invasion, he spoke with Kozak and reported to Zelenskyy on the progress. The parties allegedly agreed to unblock the work of the trilateral contact group on Donbas and continue the dialogue. And Zelenskyy believed him,” the source continued.

Yermak's rise in influence began in February 2020, after the dismissal of his predecessor, Andriy Bohdan.

Read also: Yermak discusses the formation of the newly formed Council for Entrepreneurship Support under Martial Law

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Read the original article on The New Voice of Ukraine