In a display of diplomatic grit, President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine strenuously sought support for his country during his recent visits to North America. Despite affable relations and firm handshakes, his journey’s course proved tumultuous.
Canada was the smoother part of the sojourn with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau lending his unequivocal support for Ukraine’s combat against Russian invasion, upheld by a cross-party consensus.
The United States, however, presented a more complex terrain. The nation has proven to be a significant donor, but navigating its convoluted political landscape is no easy task. Zelensky was successful in securing an additional White House military aid package to the tune of $325m (£265m), yet fell short of acquiring the hoped-for $24bn deal, which had been embroiled in congressional disputes over budget allocation.
Zelensky’s challenges didn’t end there. Amidst escalating skepticism within their ranks, Zelensky met with Republican politicians, striving to advocate Ukraine’s defense of liberal values.
A notable government adviser from Kyiv shared an optimistic perspective, stating, “The war was more difficult when it started, it was chaos… Now we can be more specific with our asks, as we know what our allies have and where they store it.”
However, Ukraine’s political hurdles continue to mount. The international community has begun to question the continual provision of ‘blank cheques’ to Ukraine. Zelensky finds himself grappling with these queries, striving to secure continuous western aid.
Relations were further strained when a Polish embargo on Ukrainian imports led Zelensky to indirectly imply Poland was aiding Russia. This charge was poorly received, causing temporary strain between the two nations that eventually deescalated.
Yet, in the unpredictable world of international politics, with upcoming elections in countries like Poland, Slovakia, and the U.S., the scenario becomes further complex. Some candidates are prioritizing domestic concerns over Ukraine’s military support.
Despite these hardships, Ukraine remains determined to present its war as a fight not solely for sovereignty, but also for democracy’s survival – a narrative encapsulated succinctly in the words of one of their advisers who stated that “the moral side of this war is huge.”
In the wake of the Soviet Union’s dissolution, Ukraine, as a participant in the 1994 Budapest Memorandum, surrendered its Soviet nuclear weapons to Russia, anticipating respect and defense for its territorial integrity from the other signatories. However, as years of Russian aggression has rendered that contract seemingly void, Ukraine now wades through broken promises, consistently fighting for its place on the global stage.
To this end, Ukraine is strongly vying for the attention and support of nations such as Brazil and South Africa, which up to this point, have remained largely indifferent towards Russia’s incursion.
Yet, the road towards global assistance is far from short. Media attention on the theatrics of war has, in Ukraine’s view, oversimplified their counteroffensive, focusing on marginal gains rather than valuable missile successes in Crimea and against Russian warships.
Undeterred, Ukraine carries on its counter-offensive at its own pace, the outcome of which is increasingly becoming intertwined with global politics, an arena where Ukraine’s resolve continues to be tested.