July 15, 2024

While Western assistance for Ukraine remains robust, critics of that support have become increasingly vocal in EU and US.

The European Union has brushed aside questions over whether the bloc will remain committed to assisting Ukraine in the long term as schisms over the issue begin to form in the United States and Europe.

A delegation of EU foreign ministers made an unannounced visit to the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, on Monday, offering an image of cohesion and reiterating their support for the country’s struggle against Russia’s invasion.

“The EU remains united in its support to Ukraine. … I don’t see any member state folding on their engagement,” EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell told reporters.

Borrell described the gathering as “historic” but made clear there would be no new concrete announcements.

“It is the first time that we met in a candidate country. And unfortunately, it was also the first time that the foreign ministers of the European Union met in a country at war,” he said at a press conference.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy told the ministers the duration of the war – now in its 20th month – was linked to the quality and quantity of support Ukraine receives from its allies.

“Our victory directly depends on our cooperation: the more strong and principled steps we take together, the sooner this war will end,” Zelenskyy said in a statement.

To bring about a speedy end to fighting, he urged the EU to expand sanctions on Russia and Iran, which has supplied attack drones for Russian forces. And he called for the “acceleration” of work to direct “frozen Russian assets to finance the restoration of war-torn Ukraine”.

The Kyiv meeting was convened amid growing signs that Western support for assistance to Ukraine is becoming more fractured.

In the US, right-wing conservatives have become increasingly vocal in their attacks on US support, and a former Slovakian prime minister who promised “not a single round” of assistance led his party to victory in parliamentary elections over the weekend.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has also become more critical of Kyiv in recent months and said Hungary is in no rush to approve Sweden’s accession to NATO.

Some countries in the Global South have also cooled on efforts by countries like the US to rally support for Ukraine. They have been hammered economically by the war and are sceptical of being forced to choose between amicable relations with either the West or Russia.

As the war grinds on, supporters of Ukraine worry that governments and voters could lose interest in the conflict and move away from commitments to provide Kyiv with essential military and economic support.

“Our victory directly depends on our cooperation: the more strong and principled steps we take together, the sooner this war will end,” Zelenskyy said in a statement after meeting the foreign ministers.

In both the US and the EU, however, support for assistance remains widespread and substantial.

“The vast majority of both parties – Democrats and Republicans, Senate and House – support helping Ukraine and the brutal aggression that is being thrust upon them by Russia,” US President Joe Biden said on Sunday as assistance to Ukraine figured in negotiations to avoid a government shutdown.

The US avoided a shutdown by passing a short-term spending package that did not include support for Ukraine.

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