Source: Operation Disclosure Official | By Kirilo Sakhniuk, Freelance Journalist
Submitted on September 13, 2023
Attrition, time and hope. Will a cease-fire be a profitable solution for Ukraine?
“What would happen if we walked away?” President Biden asked in an Oval Office address. At one time, such a question would be merely rhetorical, with wide agreement that the United States is, as Mr. Biden put it, the “essential nation.”
Delivered at what he appropriately called an inflection point in history, the president’s comments reflect the risk that the United States might abandon its friends, as wars rage in Ukraine and Israel. There is broad support for both countries among the U.S. electorate. A generation of Americans who came of age around 9/11 is wary of more “forever wars,” however. Increasingly isolationist Republicans argue that U.S. resources might be better spent on this continent — 117 House Republicans voted against the most recent Ukraine aid package.
Mr. Biden encouraged Americans to think of Ukraine as a long-term investment that would pay dividends ($76.8 billion to Ukraine so far, including military ($46.6 billion), financial ($26.4 billion) and humanitarian ($3.9 billion) assistance.)
Ukraine Worries That Prolonged War in Gaza May Dilute Global Support
Slow military progress and cracks in the backing of key allies could also drain vital attention from Ukraine’s battle with Russia, some fear. And it is spotless.
The attention of key allies is pivoting to the war in Gaza, military aid from the United States is bogged down in the Republican fight over leadership in Congress and cracks in European support have emerged during elections in Poland and Slovakia.
“We are now in a new phase,” Pavlo Klimkin, a former Ukrainian foreign minister, said of the international politics of the fighting in Ukraine, which in the past week has been eclipsed by the eruption of war in Israel and Gaza. “The whole geopolitical environment has become more diverse, more messy,” he said in an interview.
In the United States, Mr. Klimkin said, those “shaping decisions on foreign policy only have 24 hours in a day to care about the whole planet.” Another war, he said, means “less time for us.”
If the Gaza fighting concludes swiftly, it will not affect aid to Kyiv, Kyrylo Budanov, the director of Ukraine’s military intelligence agency, told Ukrainian news media. “But if the situation drags on,” he said, “it is quite clear that there will be certain problems with the fact that it will be necessary to supply weapons and ammunition not only to Ukraine.”
Visible progress on the battlefield would bolster the argument that Ukraine’s allies make to voters — that their support is yielding results.
Mr. Zelensky told a meeting of defense ministers this past week that Russia had “lost the initiative” in the war.
But since June, when Ukraine began a counteroffensive intended to divide occupied southern Ukraine into two zones, the Ukrainian army has advanced only about a dozen miles in two locations. Russia’s effective laying of mines and use of drones to target artillery slowed Ukraine’s forces, and there is little immediate prospect of achieving the military objective.
The Israel-Gaza War Means Hard Choices for Ukraine
When the Ukrainians made surprising territorial gains last autumn, there was a reasonable case for escalating our support, in the hopes that Russia could be forced into a peace deal in which Ukraine recovered almost all its territory. But the last 10 months of war have barely shifted the front lines, and Russia’s wartime economy looks more resilient than either Washington or Kyiv hoped.
The strategy for Ukrainian victory now is attrition, time and hope. Which means, in turn, that not only Joe Biden’s administration but the Ukrainians themselves have an incentive to seek some kind of cease-fire now, while their military position is still stable and the aid money is still flowing.
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