Neither Moscow nor winter: Elections present Ukraine's biggest enemy
During more than 600 days of war, United States of America was the biggest savior of Ukraine because of the weapons, money and equipment it sent.Source: Jutarnji list
But now America has become one of Ukraine's biggest concerns. American aid to Ukraine is quickly disappearing, and the dysfunction of Congress is blocking the sending of aid. No one is sure when, if at all, help will arrive again, writes Economist.
It is already being felt on the front lines as America tries to stretch its dwindling resources.
"In the spring, the flow of military supplies was like a wide river. In the summer, it was a stream. Now it's just a few drops of tears," says one Ukrainian source.
Uncertainty is high and Ukraine faces a bleak and difficult winter: its counteroffensive has failed to break through Russian lines, Russia is ramping up arms production, and its main ally is paralyzed by political turmoil and distracted by the Israeli-Hamas war in Gaza.
Lloyd Austin, U.S. Secretary of Defense, visited Kyiv on November 20 to assure Ukrainians that the U.S. would continue to support Ukraine "now and in the future".
Yet, since September, Congress has twice passed a special resolution to avoid a federal government shutdown and twice bypassed new aid to Ukraine.
The Senate will try again in December to secure aid, before another block in January. President Joe Biden has requested additional funding of $106 billion, of which $61 billion is for Ukraine and the rest for Israel and other national security priorities.
The longer the delay, the more pre-election fever grips the parties. Some in Congress are worried that, if no deal is reached before Christmas, new aid to Ukraine could wait until after the November 2024 election. But if Donald Trump is elected president, aid could end entirely.
Americans also believe that Putin will not make big and risky moves until he sees the results of the American elections. But Ukrainian leaders, at least in public, reject the idea that America might stop sending aid.
"I don't believe it will happen," said Andriy Yermak, a key associate of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, and added that during his recent visit to the US, he encountered "strong support from both sides."
The Pentagon says it has only about $5 billion left to supply Ukraine with weapons from its own arsenal, which can be withdrawn through presidential authority, which is one possibility if the president is replaced in the upcoming election.
If US support decreases, Ukraine will not be able to launch another major counter-offensive, says Michael Kofman from the US research center "Carnegie Endowment for International Peace". Maybe he'll try to use drones even more. But eventually they will have to dig in.
"Ukraine needs to learn from what worked in Russia. The stronger your defenses, the fewer shells and soldiers you need to hold the line," says Kofman.