Behind the Latest Push to End US Backing for Ukraine

The last few days has seen a renewed push to question Western backing for Ukraine in the war against Russia. Some major outlets have been quoting anonymous sources claiming now is the time to negotiate with Putin.

PR pushes like these have emerged periodically since the February 2022 invasion. The latest was kicked off by NBC in a Saturday report that made oblique references to “private discussions” being had with anonymous sources.

It is true that Western media has struck a more critical tone over Ukraine in recent months. For instance, opponents of conscription in Ukraine gained a platform in the New York Times

In August, a Washington Post report claimed as a senior US intelligence official was fed up with the lack of progress. “We built up this mountain of steel for the counteroffensive,” the official supposedly said. “We can’t do that again. It doesn’t exist.”

It is also true that the increasingly federalist Republican party is more and more opposed to supporting Ukraine. NBC claims 59% of Repubicans oppose funding the Ukrainians.

There are two factors that the latest push to undermine support for Ukraine is missing. One is that in all appearances, the White House and EU remain steadfastly pro-Zelenskyy. Biden is currently seeking a further $105 billion military aid allocation for Israel and Ukraine, of which $60 billion would go to Ukraine.

On Saturday, Ursula van der Leyen, President of the European Commission, commended Ukraine’s progress in meeting the criteria for entering the EU. She also promised to continue the EU’s financial support. EU institutions are the largest financial backers of the Ukrainian government.

The second factor is political sentiment in Ukraine itself. One correspondent on the ground since 2022 put it this way: 

The Ukrainian counter-offensive will indeed be halted as winter arrives. But that doesn’t mean its government will accede to Putin’s permanent seizure of territory, rather than wait a few months before trying again.

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