Political scientist Linas Kojala said that Nadiya Savchenko, the Ukrainian fighter pilot-turned-national hero who was recently released by Russia in a prisoner swap, will become a politician with outsize influence in her country – which can be dangerous if she doesn't understand the “rules of the game.”
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The political scientist explained how Ukraine sees Savchenko. “She is more of a Ukrainian patriot from the military side than from the political side. It is clear that her investment in Ukrainian society and Ukrainian society's belief in the future of its state is huge.”

However, he also said that “there can be problems for Savchenko because she has no experience. She does not know what political responsibility means, what it means to lead a large part of the Ukrainian nation that is disappointed with the current political elite and believes that people like Savchenko, with her work and her achievements on the front, can work in the Ukrainian government and that they can change the elite, oligarchic and corrupted system.”

Though Kojala said that it was too early to expect Savchenko to run for president, he did say that “if she can prove that she is talented not just on the war front but in politics as well, perhaps she will seek official positions in the future. Right now, however, she has a very big potential to use non-political influence. The question is how to do this, since the responsibility she has is huge. All of Ukraine is looking to her, believing that she can be a breath of fresh air for reforms and changes in the country.”

“I think that she may make a lot of mistakes initially by failing to understand the responsibility she has and the general rules of the game that have formed in Ukraine over several decades,” Kojala added.

Kojala denied that the release could have been related to the G7 summit, which Russia was excluded from. “Negotiations on the prisoner swap had begun a while ago. It's clear that they will try to use this, especially the Russian media, in an attempt to show that Russia is being excluded in vain, and that it can be negotiated and spoken with,” said Kojala.

The coming months are much more important for Russia, said Kojala. “At that time, decisions that are very important for Russia will be made. Of course, deals like this one for Savchenko can be used as tools of diplomatic pressure to claim that the EU must cease its economic sanctions on Russia.”

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