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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

Here's Why Western Support For Ukraine Is Not About To End

It's undeniable that questions are being raised in the West about the cost of supporting Ukraine in its defense against Russia's invasion. But no time soon will Western powers turn their backs on Kyiv. And the U.S. in particular has one big extra reason to work against a Russian victory: China.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, shaking hands with French President Emmanuel Macron.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and French President Emmanuel Macron at the G7 in May in Hiroshima, Japan.

Pool /Ukrainian Presidentia/Planet Pix via ZUMA
Pierre Haski


PARIS — There's been a buzz around the idea for some time now, linked to the lack of decisive progress in the war in Ukraine: Western allies are said to be questioning their military and financial support for Kyiv.

Two things are unquestionable: first, the Ukrainian offensive, which began some two months ago, has led to some territorial advances; but it's also true that it has not reversed the balance of power as Kyiv's generals had hoped, because the Russian defensive system is formidable.

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The other undeniable fact is that it's all very expensive: tens of billions of euros and dollars in military and economic aid over a year and a half of war. Earlier this week, French President Emmanuel Macron spoke of "a significant financial, diplomatic and capability investment for years to come."

Could this reality undermine the solidity of Western support? On Tuesday, conservative French daily Le Figaro ran a headline about the "first doubts" in the U.S. about aid to Ukraine. Europe, as well, is hearing voices along the same lines.

What will Washington do?

These "doubts" should not be ignored. Yet it seems to me that there's nothing today to suggest that aid to Ukraine will be at risk for the foreseeable future, which means at least until the U.S. presidential election in November of next year.

This is where the key lies. American support is decisive, even if Europe is collectively claiming to have supplied more aid, all categories included. But Washington provides leadership, and we all know how much it weighs on the decisions of other nations.

55% of Americans are against further financial aid to Ukraine.

Le Figaro reported that a poll in early August showed for the first time that 55% of Americans, and especially 72% of Republicans, were against further financial aid to Ukraine. This week, Donald Trump's upstart Republican challenger, billionaire Vivek Ramaswamy, spoke out in favor of letting Russia take control of the territories it is occupying.

Xi Jinping meets with Vladimir Putin in Moscow.

Xi Jinping meets with Vladimir Putin in Moscow, Moscow, March 21, 2023.

The Kremlin Moscow/dpa via ZUMA

Keeping China at bay

But there is one argument that makes it impossible to imagine a sudden turnaround in American policy: China.

Ultimately the main reason for such massive American involvement in Ukraine is that a Russian victory would inevitably strengthen China, the U.S.' strategic rival in the 21st century. Hostility towards Beijing benefits from bipartisan support in the U.S.

That said, a Republican victory, by Trump or another candidate, in 14 months' time would throw American foreign policy into uncertainty. But until then, President Joe Biden is unlikely to abandon the course he has set, as demonstrated by his recent green light for the delivery of F-16 aircraft to Ukraine.

The same goes for Europe. France's Macron confirmed on Monday, the line that he laid down this past spring. "Russia cannot and must not win this war, because then there would be instability on European ground," he told ambassadors. No EU country is today threatening to withdraw its support for Ukraine. The fact that there are more and more questions about that support is, however, one more undeniable fact that Western leaders cannot ignore.

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