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OPINION: Why Western Support to Ukraine is Declining

Updated: Apr 23

by Om Bhaskar ('27)

The United States has given billions of dollars to Ukraine in aid, a majority of which is military aid. In the beginning of the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, many in the west rallied in support of Ukraine. A lot of people believed the USA had the money and arms to give, and that Ukraine was a righteous democratic nation fighting against an authoritarian regime in Russia – a country hellbent on crushing the idea of an independent Ukrainian state. However, as the war rages on for its second year, an end isn’t seen in sight, despite the billions of dollars that have been sent over to the country. Many in the west have begun to question the need to aid Ukraine, and some have simply forgotten about the conflict in the first place. 

Support for Ukraine has dropped significantly since 2022. According to a collection of  Gallup polls, “Forty-one percent of Americans overall say the U.S. is doing too much, which has risen from 24% in August 2022 and 29% in June 2023. Thirty-three percent, down from 43% in June, say the U.S. is doing the right amount, while 25% believe the U.S. isn’t doing enough.”

This increase of Americans believing funding Ukraine is more and more unnecessary and the government is doing too much for it shows how the American psyche on the war has changed from a war that was necessary to fund to one that is simply not very important anymore. This can be attributed to many factors, whether it be because significant time has passed since the invasion started, or that people have shifted their attention to other conflicts such as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in Gaza.

Countries like Slovakia and the Netherlands have also elected leaders who are actually against sending arms to Ukraine, which added to the increasing western apathy to Ukraine. Major presidential candidates like Donald Trump have also expressed their disdain to the idea of sending more arms to Ukraine, instead favoring a peace deal that could entail Ukraine making some concessions to Russia.

A social studies teacher and co-chair of the Social Studies Department at South Brunswick High School Dr. Justin Negraval said, “The America-First, Isolationist policy has become the Republican Mantra,” showing how approximately half of the American Government is going back on its original “commitments” to Ukraine.

Ukraine’s war is being supported less and less even by countries nearby to Ukraine, like aforementioned Slovakia, and Hungary, because of a multitude of reasons. Firstly, Ukraine’s failure to mount a counteroffensive during the summer of 2023 make this war seem like it will just be dragged on for a much longer time. 

When asked about the counteroffensive, and what it means for the war, Dr. Negraval said, “I just think it drags on.” 

Furthermore, he explained how, “It doesn’t bode well for Ukraine wanting to wrap things up quickly.”

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky expressed a massive amount of confidence in his plan to reach the coast in his counteroffensive against Russian forces in Zaporizhia, yet lost even though he had copious western backing. Another issue with Ukraine’s war in the heads of the general public is that many in the west have observed the huge costs. The billions of dollars western nations have given to Ukraine doesn’t just come out of nowhere, and this has caused large amounts of discontent among many citizens of the biggest helpers of Ukraine, such as the USA. The country already has a debt of over $34 trillion, and this number has been increasing for some time now. This means funding of Ukraine could continue to be cut more and more in order to keep people happy. 

Finally, the initial outrage of the invasion was fueled by many different factors, one of which being the initial Russian goal for the invasion: to completely dismantle Ukraine and keep it in its sphere of influence. However, as Russian losses mount, the goals of the invasion have turned from this to annexing four provinces which Russia already controls the majority of, provinces which Russia held “referendums” in to see if the people there wished to be integrated. While the UN condemned the referenda as illegal, the point still stands that the war’s goals have shifted and so, outrage over a peace not in favor of Ukraine would be much less than it would be when the invasion initially began. 

According to an article by The Guardian, Putin said during a virtual meeting that Russia was open to peace talks with Ukraine; however, he claimed Zelensky’s refusal to have any talks with Putin was the sole reason no progress had been made. 

This could mean western leaders may begin to pressure Ukraine into signing a peace deal with Russia once public support for Ukraine drops enough, which would most likely cause Ukraine to lose some territory Russia already occupies, but the country itself not being dismantled. 

Dr. Negraval believed the question to be asked was, “How much are you willing to cede to an authoritarian government?” 

This must be the question many, not just in Ukrainian leadership but Western leadership in general, must be thinking.

As this war rages on and more blood is shed and money spent for mere kilometers of territory, western leaders may begin wavering on support for Ukraine. If this happens, the terrible war which has taken so much may finally come to an end, but end with no real winner. 

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1 Comment

Actually, if the Russia-Ukraine War ends due to a withdrawal of military and humanitarian support from Western nations, there will be a real winner: Russia. This outcome will be good for neither the West nor the world. China is watching--and so is Taiwan (Republic of China). Shortly, failure to deny Russia a victory in Ukraine--at least for as long as possible--would amount to a catastrophic loss for all Western democratic nations.

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