President Volodymyr Zelensky’s recent trip to the United States highlighted the complexities of Ukraine’s efforts to garner support in its ongoing conflict with Russia. While his visit to Canada brought forth unequivocal backing, the situation across the border proved more intricate.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, during his meeting with Zelensky, vowed unwavering support for Ukraine “for as long as it takes” in its battle against Russia’s invasion. The pledge received bipartisan endorsement in Canada, reinforcing Ukraine’s position in the international arena.
The United States, with deeper pockets, presented a more challenging landscape. President Zelensky managed to secure an additional $325million in military aid from the White House. However, this fell short of the $24billion package he had been hoping for, as it remains mired in Congressional budget disputes.
“We are protecting the liberal world, that should resonate with Republicans,” a government adviser in Kyiv told the BBC.
“It was more difficult when the war started, because it was chaos. Now we can be more specific with our asks, as we know what our allies have and where they store it. Our president could be defence minister in a number of countries!”
Despite the progress, political hurdles are mounting. Questions such as “Why should Ukraine keep getting a blank cheque? What does a victory look like?” are becoming more common, challenging Zelensky’s efforts on the world stage.
Upcoming elections in partner countries, including Poland, Slovakia, and the United States, have further complicated the situation. Some candidates prioritise domestic issues over military support for Ukraine.
Serhiy Gerasymchuk from the Ukrainian Prism foreign policy think tank explained, “Ukraine has to weigh up promoting its interests, using all the possible tools, while taking into account the situations in partner countries and the EU. It is a challenge.”
These challenges underscore the differences in democratic cycles between Ukraine and Russia.
While Russia’s leader, Vladimir Putin, doesn’t face such electoral constraints, Kyiv continues to emphasise that its war is not just for sovereignty but for democracy itself. “The moral side of this war is huge,” said the adviser.