The West will stand strong with Ukraine – but for how long?

By Bradley Bernard
Chief Leader Writer

RUSSIAN forces began their bombardment of Ukraine just over a year ago – but the former Soviet nation wasn’t left to fend for themselves.

Powerful Western nations poured money and weapons into Ukraine in the name of humanitarian aid and defensive reinforcements as Vladimir Putin continued his brutal assault on his neighbouring nation.

12 months on, the war is no closer to a conclusion than it has been at any time during the invasion.

This is not a war of attrition – it is a complete stalemate.

Russia will bombard Ukrainian cities and gain a modicum of territory before a defensive counter-attack, buoyed by Western tanks and ammunition, will take it back.

This weekend the Russian Foreign Ministry suggested the conflict could be solved by diplomatic or political means – but alluded to the Kremlin keeping the territories currently annexed, which is a red line for other parties involved.

For Western leaders, the war is not simply about protecting Ukraine – according to many, including Downing Street, it’s an attack on “Euro-Atlantic” principles.

But with a cost of living crisis across the Western world, how long will leaders continue sending aid and weapons before their people turn?

According to many polls, it’s not an issue. UK nationals are, for the most part, fully supportive of backing Ukraine to the hilt. A January press release from polling firm Ipsos Mori read: “Almost 8 in 10 agree doing nothing now will encourage Russia to take further military action in Europe and Asia (79%, higher than any other country and vs 63% globally) as well as that restrictions on Russian oil and gas are important to maintain, even if we must limit our heating this winter (78%, vs a 13-country average of 67% from nations in Europe, Australia, Canada and the US).”

But there are some cracks appearing.

Some elements of the left – including Jeremy Corbyn and Stop the War – have called for a greater focus on dialogue above supplying arms.

In Germany, major leftist party Die Linke led protests this weekends against the decision to send tanks to Ukraine.

Across the Atlantic, the train disaster in Ohio led to local leaders lamenting Joe Biden’s decision to visit Kyiv ahead of the site of the derailment.

“That was the biggest slap in the face,” Trent Conway, Mayor of East Palestine, said.

“That tells you right now he doesn’t care about us. He can send every agency he wants to, but I found out this morning that he was in Ukraine giving millions of dollars away to people over there and not to us on President’s Day in our country, so I’m furious.”

The majority of people in Western nations will likely continue to support backing Ukraine for months to come.

But as economic reality continues to deepen, leaders may have to seek a different approach to avoid domestic turmoil.

Featured Image: Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

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