Zelensky, From Hero to Uncertainty: Russia’s Resilience and The West’s Evolving Stance on Ukraine.

Written by – Elijah J. Magnier:

A warm reception and significant support marked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s initial visit to the United States. At the time, the Democrats held sway in Congress, aligning seamlessly with the Democratic US President Joe Biden. Zelensky, having taken a stand against the might of Russia in the early stages of the war, was hailed as a hero, reminiscent of Afghanistan’s resistance during the Soviet Union’s invasion in 1979. This admiration translated into substantial financial and military aid for Ukraine. Washington even facilitated platforms on the global stage for Zelensky to voice his country’s plight. The US administration, under Biden, provided tens of billions in support, seemingly pushing Zelensky into a proxy war, hoping to trap the Kremlin in a situation mirroring the Soviet-Afghan conflict.

However, the initial enthusiasm and international solidarity enjoyed by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky appears to be waning, and the political landscape shifted during his recent visit to Congress. This time, he was met with a more sceptical reception, particularly from the now-prominent Republican leaders. Their primary concern revolved around the transparency of how Ukraine utilised American funds. Moreover, there was a noticeable reluctance to grant Zelensky a platform for a joint session in Congress, stemming from doubts about Ukraine’s prospects of achieving a decisive victory against Russia. This change in demeanour underscores the evolving dynamics of US politics and its implications for international relations.

As the conflict continues, there are signs that the tide may be turning against him politically and in terms of tangible support. Once staunch supporters of Ukraine, European nations appear to be reassessing their position. The economic and military doors once wide open to Zelensky’s government now appear less available. This shift reflects not only war fatigue but also a recalibration of geopolitical interests and the practicalities of long-term involvement in a protracted conflict.

While it’s too early to say that Zelensky is completely isolated on the international stage, the changing dynamics suggest that Ukraine may have to navigate the coming phases of the conflict with reduced external support. There are many reasons for this shift, ranging from economic pressures and political considerations to the sheer unpredictability of the war’s outcome.

As Zelensky grapples with these challenges, the broader question remains: Will the international community’s shifting stance affect the war, and if so, how will Ukraine adapt to this new reality?

The recent change in the US Congress, with Republican Kevin McCarthy at the helm, has brought to light deeper undercurrents in US foreign policy towards Ukraine. McCarthy’s assertive declaration that there would be “no blank check for Ukraine” marked a sharp departure from the previous Democratic-led support. The statement prompted a frank response from President Joe Biden, who briefly outlined the broader implications of the conflict. “They [Republicans] don’t understand foreign policy. It’s not just about Ukraine. It’s about (the unity of) NATO. It’s about (America’s influence in) Eastern Europe,” Biden said.

Biden’s comments offer a window into the strategic importance of the Ukraine conflict, far beyond the immediate territorial disputes. The war is serving as a litmus test of NATO’s relevance and unity, especially in the wake of French President Emmanuel Macron’s controversial statement that “NATO is in a state of brain death” and his call for Europe to have its defence mechanism, including against potential threats from the US.

In response to such sentiments, Biden rallied NATO members by emphasizing the expected benefits of a united front against Russia. While initial resistance from critical European players such as France and Germany was evident at the start of the conflict in February 2022, they eventually aligned themselves with the US stance.

However, the US strategic calculus has been challenged. Contrary to Washington’s expectations, Russia did not buckle under pressure, nor did its economy collapse in the face of harsh Western sanctions. Instead, Moscow found solidarity from nations across continents. In particular, countries such as India, several African and Latin American states, and some Middle Eastern states refrained from imposing sanctions on Russia but openly called for an end to hostilities.

This global response underlines the complexity of the Ukraine conflict and its far-reaching implications. It’s not just a regional dispute but a reflection of the shifting sands of global geopolitics and the evolving dynamics of power and influence in the 21st century.

The long-awaited Ukrainian counter-offensive, hailed by the US and Ukraine last spring as a breakthrough in Russian defences, has failed to live up to its lofty expectations. More than just a military strategy, the operation was seen as a morale booster for Western allies struggling with a sluggish economy, rising war costs and a weakening European currency. Months into the offensive, however, Ukraine has achieved only a minor breakthrough, hardly living up to the pre-war hype and barely denting the formidable Russian defences the Kremlin has meticulously built up.

Moreover, growing concerns about corruption within the Ukrainian administration compounded the military setbacks. These concerns reached a crescendo during Ukrainian President Zelensky’s recent visit to the US. Leading the charge was House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who pointedly remarked: “The American people want to know where their money is being spent. This sentiment was reinforced when Zelensky fired his defence minister, Oleksii Reznikov, following serious allegations of widespread corruption in a ministry at the forefront of the war effort, consuming billions of dollars and being the primary recipient of war aid.

McCarthy’s investigation didn’t stop at financial transparency. He also asked, “Where is the plan for victory (over Russia)?” Such statements underscore a growing American disillusionment with the lack of tangible progress on the ground and the inability of Ukrainian forces to make significant headway against Russian defences. Once-open American financial support for Ukraine appears to wane, with Republican senators and members of Congress writing a letter opposing further economic and military aid… (Continue reading)

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