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Now is not the time for “Ukraine fatigue”

Nov 17, 2022 | Editorials, Featured

Local residents celebrate after Russia’s retreat from Kherson, in central Kherson, Ukraine November 12, 2022. Photo: REUTERS/Yevhenii Zavhorodnii

Marco Levytsky, Editorial Writer.

Two milestone events this past week are likely to have a profound effect on the outcome of Russia’s unprovoked and brutal invasion of Ukraine.

The first was the 2022 U.S. midterm elections, November 8. The much-expected Republican landslide did not occur. They failed to take control of the Senate and the majority they are expected to win in the House of Representatives will be very slim. Although a number of MAGA (Make America Great Again) Republicans have been elected, by and large former President Donald Trump’s chosen candidates went down to defeat. This should, at least for the time being, put the neo-isolationist “America First” movement to rest.

Prior to the election itself there was considerable concern that aid to Ukraine may be cut off. Fueling such speculation was Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., who said at a Trump rally in Iowa that “under Republicans, not another penny will go to Ukraine.” But as the date approached, senior Republicans in Congress bent over backwards to make it clear that won’t be the case. Sens. Tom Cotton of Arkansas and Rick Scott of Florida went on television to make it clear that Republicans would not waver in their support for the Ukrainians, as the country continues its counteroffensive against Russia’s invasion.

“I think we have to continue to do everything we can to support Ukraine, who wants to defend their freedom and stop Russia from continuing to expand,” Scott said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” when he was pressed about the GOP’s position after Greene’s statement.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California, who hopes to become speaker, decided to clarify his own statement that a GOP-controlled Congress would not provide Ukraine with “a blank check” in its fight. Many viewed the statement as an indication of a new approach if Republicans take over.

“I’m very supportive of Ukraine. I think there has to be accountability going forward,” he told CNN on November 6, two days before the midterm elections. “You always need, not a blank check, but [to] make sure the resources are going to where it is needed. And make sure Congress and the Senate have the ability to debate it openly.”

The second key event was the liberation of Kherson City on November 11. Ukrainian troops were greeted with jubilation even though the residents have to suffer with no power, no water and no internet. But was this a huge morale booster for the Ukrainian Armed Forces as it was the only regional capital Russians were able to take following their February 24 onslaught, but it removed Russian forces from the right bank of the Dnipro, consolidating Ukrainian positions as winter approaches. Although Russia will continue to lob missile on civilian Ukrainian targets, hoping to achieve their war aims by terrorizing the civilian population and making them freeze in the dark, Ukrainian forces will be able to pummel Russian military installations and supply lines diminishing their capacity to defend the occupied territories. If anything, the victory at Kherson underscores the superiority of the Ukrainian military and makes the possibility that Ukraine will regain all its sovereign territories occupied since 2014 very real.

Unfortunately, “Ukraine fatigue” is starting to spread. Even the Biden administration is privately encouraging Ukraine’s leaders to signal an openness to negotiate with Russia and drop their public refusal to engage in peace talks unless President Vladimir Putin is removed from power. This, officials say is a calculated attempt to ensure that Ukraine maintains the support of other nations who are wary of fueling a war for many years to come.

For all those nations who are wary of fueling a war for many years to come, this really amounts a matter of inconvenience. This war has caused economic turmoil, including inflation and the monetary cost of supporting Ukraine. But for Ukraine, this war is a war for its very survival. The people of Ukraine are very well aware that any concessions to Russia will not satisfy Moscow’s lust. It will only mean a brief respite from further aggression. It is frankly immoral to expect a country which has suffered so much in terms of civilian casualties, unspeakable tortures, the wholesale destruction of their homes and infrastructure – a country whose people are not so much concerned with the price of fuel and energy as they are with simply having access to fuel and energy to heat their homes in winter – provided that they have any homes to begin with – to make concessions just to ease the inconvenience this war may cause to those who watch the carnage from the safety of their homes.

What’s more, for countries like the United States and the United Kingdom, who pledged to respect Ukraine’s territorial integrity under the Budapest memorandum, after pressuring Ukraine to give up its nuclear weapons, it would be disgraceful to now pressure Ukraine to give up part of its territory.

What’s more, Ukrainian battlefield successes prove that Moscow can be beaten. Russia is fighting this war to spread its evil empire as far as it can. Ukraine is fighting to save not only itself, but the free world as a whole. The least the rest of the free world can do is provide Ukraine with the necessary military and economic support it needs to keep that same free world free.

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