Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s recent visit to the White House and Congress has significant differences in circumstances compared to his previous visit less than a year ago. Ukraine is currently facing a potential breakthrough in its counteroffensive against Russian-controlled territory. Still, with winter approaching, the situation becomes even more complex as fighting in harsh conditions becomes increasingly difficult.
Back to Washington
The ongoing Russian invasion has brought suffering and devastation to Ukraine. However, the future course of the conflict is uncertain, so Zelenskyy recently went to Washington looking for more support.
The key difference this time is the uncertainty of Western support for Ukraine continuing and how it could impact Ukraine’s ability to defend itself against Russia.
While the United States and Europe have provided financial and military assistance, there are growing divisions within these Western allies.
A New Package
During Zelenskyy’s previous visit, Congress was considering a billion-dollar aid package for Ukraine.
This time, the Biden administration is advocating for a $24 billion aid package. While the package enjoys bipartisan support, a group of Republicans has expressed concerns about giving a “blank check” to Kyiv.
These divisions in the GOP could potentially lead to a government shutdown, further complicating the situation. However, in the meeting, Zelenskyy said, “If we don’t get the aid, we will lose the war.”
The future of Ukraine’s relations with the United States remains uncertain, especially with the upcoming GOP primary debates, where Ukraine skeptics, including former President Donald Trump, have voiced their opinions.
Ukraine’s other partners in the region have also shown signs of wavering support. Poland, Hungary, and Slovakia have banned Ukrainian grain exports due to market saturation and harm to their farmers.
Ukraine has filed a complaint with the World Trade Organization against this move. Still, Poland’s recent decision to halt weapons shipments to Ukraine amid the grain dispute further highlights the conditional nature of support.
The dispute also revolves around Russia’s withdrawal from the Black Sea grain deal and its blockade of the Black Sea, which affects Ukraine’s ability to export grain through its seaports.
Russia’s continued pressure on these fronts not only threatens Ukraine’s economy but also global food prices.
A Call for Global Unity
Despite the entrenched conflict, the stakes remain high. An aggressive air campaign by Russia against Ukrainian cities followed Zelenskyy’s call for global unity against Russia at the United Nations.
Russia may not be winning decisively, but it is far from defeated. Its defensive capabilities have proven formidable, and it possesses tools that Ukraine lacks, such as attack drones and guided bombs.
Sanctions continue to limit Russia’s long-term war capability, but it is still finding ways to fight and regain territory. President Vladimir Putin has also managed to retain power despite the many challenges he has faced.
Nevertheless, Ukrainian forces still have the potential to make significant advances into Russian territory, as demonstrated by their successes in Kharkiv and Kherson.
After the meeting with Zelenskyy, Senator Jeanne Shaheen, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Senator Thom Tillis, co-chair of the U.S. Senate NATO Observer Group, released a statement saying, “The quickest way to end this war is for Congress to continue to provide Ukraine with the assistance it needs to defeat Putin and his unprovoked attempt to overrun a sovereign nation.”
Despite the Senate’s continuing support for Ukraine, many people are upset that the United States Government is still financially supporting a war overseas when the country suffers from its struggles.
One Social Media user commented, “Look at Mitch McConnell looking adoringly at Zelenskyy while Chuck Schumer smiles in approval for more money for Ukraine. Meanwhile, our government forgot Hawaii is part of the United States after their “generous” $700.00 per person disaster relief.”
Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock / Oleh Dubyna