Get PolitiFact in your inbox.

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, left, greets U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, right, prior to their meeting in Kyiv, Ukraine, May 14, 2024. (AP) Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, left, greets U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, right, prior to their meeting in Kyiv, Ukraine, May 14, 2024. (AP)

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, left, greets U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, right, prior to their meeting in Kyiv, Ukraine, May 14, 2024. (AP)

Jeff Cercone
By Jeff Cercone May 29, 2024

U.S. secretary of state didn’t announce suspension of Ukrainian elections; Ukrainian president did

If Your Time is short

  • Ukraine’s presidential election would have been held in March, but Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in November that elections would not take place.

  • Since Russia’s 2022 invasion, Ukraine has operated under martial law. Ukraine’s law prohibits elections during martial law.

  • U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken made no announcement about suspending Ukraine’s elections. He referred to Ukrainian elections in a May 14 speech, saying the U.S. is working with Ukraine to strengthen its election infrastructure for when Ukrainians agree conditions allow for elections.

Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s five-year term as the country’s leader expired May 20. Yet he remains in power as elections scheduled for spring were not held.

One social media user, who was critical of U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s recent Ukraine visit, said Blinken, during his trip, "announced that they were going to suspend elections in Ukraine."

This Instagram post was flagged as part of Meta’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram.)

The post is wrong. PolitiFact examined transcripts of all Blinken’s public remarks in Ukraine during his May 14-15 visit and found no announcements about Ukrainian elections.

In a May 14 speech, Blinken referred to Ukraine’s elections, saying the U.S. is working with Ukraine to shore up election infrastructure so when Ukrainians agree that conditions allow, "all Ukrainians, including those displaced by Russia’s aggression — can exercise their right to vote" and "have confidence that the voting process is free, fair, secure."

Elections to replace Zelenskyy would have taken place in March — two months before Blinken’s visit — but the country did not hold elections because martial law has been in effect there since Feb. 24, 2022, when Russia invaded. Parliamentary elections that would have been held in October also didn’t happen. 

Ukrainian law, in Article 19, prohibits elections under martial law.

Zelenskyy in a Nov. 6, 2023, video address translated into English on a Ukrainian government website, said, "In wartime, when there are so many challenges, it is absolutely irresponsible to throw the topic of elections into society in a lighthearted and playful way."

He also said: "Now is the time of defense, the time of the battle that determines the fate of the state and people, not the time of manipulations, which only Russia expects from Ukraine. I believe that now is not the right time for elections."

All political parties in the Verkhovna Rada, Ukraine’s Parliament, signed a joint statement in November agreeing that parliamentary and presidential elections should take place after the war and martial law had ended.

A State Department spokesperson told PolitiFact that Ukraine is in this position because of Russia’s invasion. The spokesperson said Russia occupies nearly 20% of Ukraine’s territory and tens of millions of citizens have been displaced.

An Instagram post’s claim that Blinken announced on a recent visit that Ukraine was suspending its elections ignores that the elections would have already taken place in March and that Zelenskyy announced in November they would not take place because of martial law.

Blinken made no such announcement about Ukraine’s elections. He referred to them only in a speech in which he said the U.S. is helping Ukraine shore up its election infrastructure. The goal, Blinken said, is to enable  all Ukrainians, even those displaced by war, to vote and be confident the process is fair and secure when conditions allow for elections. The claim is False.

Our Sources

Instagram video, May 27, 2024 (archived)

Email exchange, U.S. State Department spokesperson, May 28, 2024

U.S. State Department, Secretary Antony J. Blinken and Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba at a Joint Press Availability, May 15, 2024

U.S. State Department, Secretary Antony J. Blinken At a Visit to an Agricultural Logistics and Transshipment Partner Facility, May 15, 2024

U.S. State Department, Secretary Antony J. Blinken And U.S. Special Representative for Ukraine’s Economic Recovery Penny Pritzker At a Visit to Esper Bionics, May 15, 2024

U.S. State Department, Secretary Antony J. Blinken and Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba Before Their Meeting, May 15, 2024

U.S. State Department, Antony Blinken speech: A Free, Prosperous, and Secure Future for Ukraine, May 14, 2024

U.S. State Department, Secretary Antony J. Blinken at a Music Drop By, May 14, 2024

The Associated Press, Ukraine’s president rules out holding elections next spring and calls for unity in fighting Russia, Nov. 7, 2023

CNN, Ukraine’s election day dawned with no vote in sight and little appetite for one – for now, anyway, April 1, 2024

The Washington Post, Zelensky extends martial law, casting doubt on fall parliamentary elections, Aug. 17, 2023

President of Ukraine official website, President signed a decree on the imposition of martial law in Ukraine, the Verkhovna Rada approved it, Feb. 24, 2022

President of Ukraine official website, The battle that determines the fate of the state and people is now underway; it is not the right time for elections – address by the President of Ukraine, Nov. 6, 2023

Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, Article 19, accessed May 28, 2024

Constitution of Ukraine, Constitution of Ukraine, accessed May 28, 2024

Verkhovna Council of Ukraine, With the participation of the leadership of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, a meeting was held for the ninth time in the format of "Dialogue of Jean Monet", Nov. 13, 2023

Ukrainska Pravda, Ukraine's political parties agree to postpone elections until after the war,  Nov. 30, 2023

Browse the Truth-O-Meter

More by Jeff Cercone

U.S. secretary of state didn’t announce suspension of Ukrainian elections; Ukrainian president did

Support independent fact-checking.
Become a member!

In a world of wild talk and fake news, help us stand up for the facts.

Sign me up