The World Today for November 08, 2022

NEED TO KNOW

When War Is On The Ballot

UKRAINE

Western arms and financial support have been vital to Ukraine’s successes on the battlefield against Russia. But Western politicians who are unenthusiastic about supporting Ukraine are arguably gaining power around the world.

The prospect of international support for Ukraine waning comes as Russia has damaged the country’s energy infrastructure before the beginning of winter. On Monday, for example, millions of Ukrainians lacked power. That strategy aims to break the Ukrainian will to fight, which currently remains strong and determined, argued the Atlantic Council. It also comes as Europe and the rest of the world reel from high energy prices – and in some places, food shortages – that have stoked inflation and could spark a recession.

In the US, for example, the leader of the Republican minority in the House of Representatives, Kevin McCarthy, has said that American taxpayers won’t want to write a “blank check” to Ukraine as they struggle to make ends meet amid a recession, the Los Angeles Times wrote. If Republicans win big when Americans vote in midterm elections on Nov. 8, McCarthy’s sentiments could alter the power balance in Eastern Europe.

Some Democrats have also cast doubt on the US’ commitment to arming Ukraine, The Hill noted. They recently rescinded a letter to US President Joe Biden after blowback, that had called for more diplomacy to end the war.

Meanwhile, the new right-wing prime minister of Italy, Giorgia Meloni, leads a political movement that has been highly sympathetic to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s nationalistic and conservative social policies. While Meloni has been explicit about supporting Ukraine, Foreign Policy magazine explained, her allies embrace Putin because he “is the epitome of traditional values standing against noxious globalism blowing in from the West.”

Similarly, in Sweden, Jimmie Akesson, the leader of the Sweden Democrats, a populist political party that is a key supporter of Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson, has also equivocated on supporting Ukraine and Russia. In August, when asked whether he preferred Biden or Putin, Akesson said “it depends on the context,” reported the Associated Press.

Turkish officials blocking Sweden and Finland’s entry into NATO over disputes related to Kurdish rebels in Turkey are also indirectly helping Russia while undermining the West’s unity in the face of Putin’s aggression, added the Center for European Policy Analysis, a think tank based in Washington, D.C.

These developments haven’t necessarily hurt Ukraine yet. They are still a gift to Putin, however, argued the Washington Post’s editorial board.

Those fears might be overblown, some argue. In Bulgaria, historically a Russian ally but now a NATO member, the Socialist Party had opposed sending weapons to Ukraine. As a result, Bulgaria – along with Hungary – had been the only EU member countries that hadn’t given Ukraine weapons. However, as the Associated Press noted, after the Oct. 2 election that changed the balance of power in Bulgaria’s parliament, lawmakers agreed to send weapons to Ukraine.

But as any political analyst anywhere knows, elections can blur the distinction between posturing and conviction.

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