A Tough Battle for Support
President Volodymyr Zelensky’s recent trips to the US and Canada may have been filled with firm handshakes and promises of support, but the Ukrainian leader had to fight for every inch of assistance his country received. Despite securing a $325m military package from the White House, the much-needed $24bn package remains stuck in Congress, held up by budget disagreements. A battle of wills, not only with the US but also with other western allies, is on the horizon.
Navigating the Political Landscape
Zelensky’s political navigation skills are being put to the test. He’s not only dealing with President Joe Biden but also with Republican politicians who seem increasingly sceptical about Ukraine’s position. “We are protecting the liberal world, that should resonate with Republicans,” a government adviser in Kyiv tells me. Zelensky’s ability to articulate Ukraine’s role in global security and democracy is now more crucial than ever.
Challenging Questions and Diplomatic Strains
“Why should Ukraine keep getting a blank cheque? What does a victory look like?” These are questions Zelensky is striving to answer on the world stage while he tries to keep Western help flowing. The difficulty of this task is amplified by diplomatic strains with allies like Poland, which recently banned Ukrainian grain imports, leading to a heated exchange between the two nations.
The Balancing Act in Times of Elections
With upcoming elections in partner countries like Poland, Slovakia, and the US, the landscape becomes even more challenging. Many candidates are prioritising domestic issues over military support for Ukraine. Balancing Ukraine’s interests with the political considerations of its allies is a daunting task, as Serhiy Gerasymchuk from the Ukrainian Prism foreign policy think tank explains.
The Fight for Democracy
Despite these challenges, Kyiv continues to frame this war as a fight not only for its sovereignty but for democracy itself. This is a battle that Russia’s leader, Vladimir Putin, doesn’t have to worry about. The moral implications of the war are immense, and Ukraine is determined to ensure the world recognises that.
The Broken Promise and the Long Game
The Budapest Memorandum of 1994, in which Ukraine surrendered the Soviet nuclear weapons left on its soil to Russia in exchange for a pledge of its territorial integrity, now feels like a broken promise after nine years of Russian aggression. However, Ukraine is playing the long game, trying to engage with countries like Brazil and South Africa, who have been apathetic towards Russia’s invasion.