Ukraine's Allies Concerned Military Support Will Fade after US Elections – FT

Thursday, 18 May 2023

Western allies of Ukraine fear the scale of assistance to Ukraine is approaching its peak, and next year there may be problems due to the elections in the United States.

According to the Financial Times, Ukraine's allies fear military support for its battle against Russia is nearing a peak, with senior European officials increasingly concerned about the flow of aid next year as the US enters a divisive presidential campaign.

Washington has been Ukraine's dominant source of weaponry and US officials say sufficient preapproved funds remain to sustain Kyiv for about five more months, covering a crucial counter-offensive planned for the coming weeks.

US officials say that funds for supporting Ukraine for the next five months are already secured.

European allies are increasingly uncertain about whether the US will come close to matching its existing $48bn package, adopted in 2022, particularly as it requires a vote in Congress this autumn against the backdrop of more partisan debate on the war.

One European interlocutor added that "we can't keep the same level of assistance forever," arguing the current rate of support could be sustained for a year or possibly two but not more.

Western officials are also hopeful that Ukraine's counter-offensive, backed by unprecedented supplies of NAtO-standard weapons, will deliver major gains that could force Putin to negotiate peace terms of some form.

There are no doubts about the Biden administration's intentions to continue supporting Ukraine. However, its key opponent in the elections appears to be Donald Trump who refused to answer the thrice-voiced question of who he wants to see as the winner in Russia's war against Ukraine.

"What Donald Trump says has a lot of impact on how difficult this issue becomes in Congress... His position on Ukraine funding will have a lot to do with what happens if we need to reauthorise support," said US Democratic Senator Chris Murphy, a member of the Senate foreign relations committee.

Some allies in regular contact with the US over Ukraine say Washington sees the next five months as critical to the outcome of the conflict and the last real chance for Kyiv to change the situation on the ground.

Some of the officials pointed to the UN General Assembly and G20 leaders' summit taking place consecutively in early September as two crucial diplomatic events where both sides would come under large pressure to come to the table.

"If we get to September and Ukraine has not made significant gains, then the international pressure to bring them to negotiations will be enormous," said one of the officials on condition of anonymity. "The same is true for Russia if the counter-offensive leaves them routed."

Meanwhile, western officials are also hopeful that Ukraine’s counter-offensive, backed by unprecedented supplies of Nato-standard weapons, will deliver major gains that could force Putin to negotiate peace terms of some form.

US military assessments say Ukraine is unlikely to be able to achieve all its political goals on the battlefield this year, even if it does make gains during the counteroffensive. Ukrainian and European officials also acknowledge this view privately.

On April 25,  US President Joe Biden formally announced that he is running for reelection (Ukr) in 2024.

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