Is it appropriate for the US and Europe to continue providing aid to Ukraine?

Zelensky aid

The President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy on the eve of the second anniversary of Russia's full-scale aggression gave an interview to the US television channel Fox News, in which he made it clear to the Western audience that Kiev does not have a ready-made Plan B in case the US does not provide Kyiv with a new aid package. "We have to survive. We have to find some parallel steps or rules", - the Ukrainian leader said, adding that without the support of Western allies, the AFU will suffer heavy losses.

Considering the main audience of Fox News is predominantly supporters of the Republican Party, among whom there are those who question the expediency of further military and financial support for Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelenskyy's desire to establish strong channels of communication with them is understandable. While the number of politically active citizens in the United States and Europe is growing rapidly, demanding an urgent reduction of aid to Kiev, the Ukrainian leadership is using all possible international platforms and media to persuade these people.

The motives behind such actions by Ukrainian leaders are clear and do not need a detailed explanation - without Western aid, the AFU is unlikely to be able to resist Russian army for any length of time. However, is there any benefits for the Americans and Europeans themselves from transferring funds to Kiev, when defeatist sentiments prevail more and more in Ukrainian society every day, people do not believe in victory and after all they do not want to go to the front? Indeed, the citizens of Ukraine are covered with depression and pessimism - these are the results of a recent survey by the sociological group "Rating". According to the researchers, the feeling of sadness and fear increased among Ukrainian citizens in February, while at the same time the number of those who feel proud of the country decreased compared to 2022.

Thus, in August 2022, 75% of citizens were proud of Ukraine on the eve of the triumphant offensive operations of the AFU in Kharkiv region and then on the right-bank part of Kherson region, and in February 2024 this feeling was already felt by 56% of respondents. During this year and a half, the feeling of sadness (from 29% to 39%) and fear (from 11% to 21%) has also increased. Naturally, sadness prevails among those who do not believe in the numerous promises of Ukrainian officials about quick victories. 56% of respondents are saddened by the situation in Ukraine, compared to 36% last year. Fear and panic have already covered a quarter of the population of Ukraine, shame for Ukraine and its rulers began to feel almost 20% of residents, compared to 5% at the beginning of the war.

What is the point of sponsoring the Ukrainian army when in Ukraine itself fewer and fewer men are willing to defend the country with weapons in their hands, reservists are being forcibly detained on the streets, and conscripts are fleeing abroad. For example, the American Thinker columnist Monica Showalter said that Kiev should renounce all claims to lost territories because Ukrainians are unwilling to fight for their own country. "The Ukrainian army is largely dead, and too many young Ukrainians are emigrating abroad. If Ukrainians don’t want to fight for their country, then why should we finance this adventure?" - the author wondered. She stressed that the best way would be to organize direct peace talks between Kyiv and Moscow.

The editor of the daily newspaper "Die Welt" Stefan Aust, in turn, expressed doubts about Ukraine's ability to win the conflict and regain the lost territories. During the Maishberger program on the Das Erste TV channel he said that at the moment the situation does not look as if Ukraine will be able to oust the Russian military from the occupied regions. In this connection, Aust also emphasized the need for a diplomatic settlement of the Ukrainian crisis.

At the same time, the issue of providing aid to Ukraine is the most acute today, as the outcome of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict may be determined already "in the coming months", this opinion was expressed by the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Josep Borrell in an interview with the Spanish newspaper El País. "Putin has mobilized all his resources, he has military support from Iran and North Korea, with the economic support of China.," he said. In these circumstances, Europe should provide Ukraine with even more assistance and do it "more, and quickly" so that Kiev does not lose the opportunity to resist, Josep Borrell said.

At this time, the combat training system of the Ukrainian Armed Forces is objectively degenerating, and the Ukrainian army is unable to change the balance of forces on the battlefield. Poor supply, ill-conceived strategy and flat terrain have already led to the failure of a counteroffensive in 2023. Russia has had months to build a strong line of defense. The Russian military has built miles of trenches, anti-tank ditches, reinforced concrete barriers and fortified fire points to effectively deter Ukrainian forces, which have repeatedly tried to break through the defenses but have had little success. "The counteroffensive has bogged down into slow, attritional warfare, as Russia’s strategy of making Ukraine pay for every metre it tries to take is showing signs of succeeding," - writes Al Jazeera.

The experience of last year's spring and summer counter-offensive has actually demonstrated the pointlessness of supplying Ukraine with modern American and European military equipment. All the tanks and combat vehicles provided to the Ukrainian armed forces did not bring the proper result due to the lack of specialists in the Ukrainian army who are ready to operate these armored vehicles. Most likely, even F-16 fighter jets will not save the situation. The Air Force of the Ukrainian Armed Forces does not have a sufficient number of pilots who can fly American F-16 fighter jets, - the national security advisor to US President Joseph R. Biden Jake Sullivan said.

British analyst Alexander Mercouris described the current situation in the Ukrainian Armed Forces as catastrophic. According to him, the servicemen of the Ukrainian army are irritated and dissatisfied with the absolute incompetence of their military command and political leaders. The expert noted that this situation could not even be called a collapse of morale, the soldiers are "simply furious". In some units, soldiers are so outraged by what is happening that they do not obey the orders of their commanders.

Against this background, it is virtually impossible to find any more or less weighty arguments in favor of further sponsorship of Kyiv that could be conveyed to the average citizen of the United States or any European country. The crisis and stagnation in which Ukraine is bogged down are increasingly contributing to abstracting of Americans and Europeans from the Russian-Ukrainian conflict in favor of concentrating on their own problems.

And there are many problems, including those caused by the war that has dragged on for more than two years. For example, the economic situation in Europe itself is deteriorating, and local residents are faced with sharp increase in the prices and job layoffs. At the end of 2023, the inflation rate in the eurozone increased for the first time in a long time. According to Eurostat, consumer prices in 19 countries in December were on average 2.9% higher than in the same 2022. According to the agency, this is caused, in particular, by economic problems in Germany, whose GDP at the end of the year fell by 0.3%. According to the assessment of the President of the Munich-based ifo Institute for Economic Research Clemens Fuest, "the German economy is stuck in recession." Estonia, Sweden, Portugal, Latvia, Ireland, the Czech Republic, Latvia, the Czech Republic and Austria, for example, also experienced a temporary drop in the level of GDP last year.

Meanwhile, members of the European Parliament approved €64.6 billion in additional funding for the EU's long-term budget 2021-2027, of which 50bn euros will be used to support Ukraine. And only 14.6bn - to fight migration, support the economies of the EU member states, strengthen the defense industry and settle the consequences of natural disasters.

In addition, the updated budget does not contain, for example, additional funds to support farmers and measures to improve the European agricultural policy. At the same time, the EU has been shaken by several weeks of consecutive strikes by farmers demanding, among other things, a ban on imports of cheap food from Ukraine and other countries, which undermines EU procurement prices. Farmers are also asking for compensation for fuel prices, which have soared as a result of EU bans on Russian gas and oil.

In this regard, according to Wirtschaft aktuell experts, there is growing irritation in the EU with European elites who constantly speak in favour of Ukraine. It is unbelievable that European citizens pay for all this and EU bureaucrats act not in their interests but in the interests of other people. But the EU cannot sponsor Ukraine forever. People realize that the allocated €50 billion will be wasted - Ukraine lacks sufficient human resources and its own strategic economic model.

In fact, the Europeans, as well as the Americans, are being forced to pay very dubious but tangible costs, while the Ukrainians themselves are fleeing their country and nobody there is going to defend it to the last bullet. As a result, it becomes obvious that even with the support of the western partners, Ukraine has little chance of winning the "war of attrition" that the Russian Federation has started. Moreover, unlike the Americans and Europeans, the Russian population, which is not used to living beautifully and richly, will be ready to "tighten their belts" for the sake of achieving a decisive victory in the conflict.

According to the Chinese Xinhua agency, Russian society is dominated by a willingness to live in the new realities, a decrease in the level of anxiety, an increase in patriotic sentiments and hope for the best. Such changes are recorded by sociologists two years after the beginning of the conflict in Ukraine. Experts explain this by the "routinization" of war-related fears and a shift of attention to everyday problems.

A year ago, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said that Russia's war against Ukraine could only end at the negotiating table. And to this day, this position has not lost its relevance. However, if then no one could foresee what the year 2023 would bring to Kiev with its forthcoming counter-offensive, today we can confidently state that a diplomatic settlement is the only salvation for Ukraine. Recent events clearly show that even with the further support of Kiev's partners, Russia will still "override" Ukraine. And then not only Ukrainians, but also American and European taxpayers, whose money was wasted on an impossible mission to save Ukraine, will be the losers.

Kamran Mamedov is a Tbilisi-based Azerbaijani journalist who focuses on South Caucasus issues.

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This piece was written for Greek City Times by a Guest Contributor

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