Cracks In Western Support Pose New Challenge For Ukraine
Ukraine faces growing diplomatic headwinds after its summer counter-offensive against Russia's forces faltered, with aid from vital backers in the United States and EU being increasingly called into question.
The latest sign of tensions came when President Volodymyr Zelensky cancelled at the last minute a Tuesday video address to the US Congress, which he hoped would help unblock vital further billions in funding.
No reason was named publicly for the no-show.
In Europe, eyes were on Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, a staunch sceptic of EU backing for Ukraine's war effort.
A French diplomatic source countered that Ukraine still has "a very low rate of mobilisation" among its population, while Russia's "statistics are being fiddled with".
While national morale may have been tested, Ukrainian troops at the front still appear determined to see the fight through.
And while the war is costly, "the Europeans won't cast Ukraine aside because they know if Putin takes Ukraine, it would be a very dangerous precedent" with risks for EU members like the Baltic states and Poland, said Tatiana Kastoueva-Jean of the French Institute for International Relations (IFRI).
That was backed up by the French diplomat.
"Backing Ukraine is about European and French security," the diplomat, asking not to be named, told a group of reporters.
Leaders must "counter the idea that one crisis pushes another aside," the diplomat added, in reference to fears in Ukraine that Israel's fight with Hamas militants could distract Europe.
"Everyone knows that it's a risky time, but I don't see any defeatism in Brussels or at NATO," the diplomatic source said -- while acknowledging that questions would inevitably be asked after two years of war.
Analyst Kastoueva-Jean said that while "every factor is working towards stasis" at the front, it was vital for European leaders to minimise dissent about their continuing support.
Staying the course is all the more important for Europe with US presidential elections in November 2024 where Donald Trump and his America-first programme have a real chance of returning to office.
Reassurance from outside was also needed, Kastoueva-Jean said, as "squabbling among the elites is showing up" in Kyiv, where the relationship between Zelensky and his military chief of staff Valery Zaluzhny has grown fraught.
"Could this be the end of national unity behind Zelensky, or is it just an interlude tied to the challenges at the front?" she asked.
French diplomats have been trying to convince allies that aid must be kept up as a signal to Putin that "he can't count on support wearing out" for Kyiv.
> Read the article in AFP/International Business Times