Ukraine’s war against Russia has been bumped off front pages by Israel’s conflict, leading to concern that U.S. financial support for Kyiv may also disappear. The Kremlin fuels fears that funding will stop, and repeats allegations about corruption in Ukraine in order to damage the war effort. At issue is the new Republican House leader Mike Johnson, a staunch supporter of Israel, and whether or not he will pull the plug on Ukraine.
But he pledged full support for both wars privately to his caucus and told Fox Television in an interview that “we can’t allow Vladimir Putin to prevail in Ukraine, because I don’t believe it would stop there.” Even so, anxiety remains. America’s democracy is topsy-turvy and plagued with gridlock, acrimony, and Donald Trump. This week, Trump waded in, suggesting that aid be withheld from Ukraine until the Biden administration cooperates with a Republican “investigation” into Hunter Biden’s past business dealings in Ukraine and elsewhere.
Hardball politics have no place when it comes to security matters which as supporting Israel and Ukraine. These allocations are long-term security commitments, not pork barrel payouts, and are made to fend off Russia and Iran which both sponsor terrorism around the world. Israel was brutally attacked on October 7 by Hamas, a terrorist organization backed by Iran and Russia. And Ukraine was invaded by Russia on February 24, 2022, and has been battered by Moscow. Its cities have been flattened, economy destroyed, eight million have fled to Europe, and its civilians have been targeted. In two years, Ukrainians have had to create a modern military from scratch and are finally, slowly clawing back territory. Without Western support, Putin would be at Poland’s border by now.
The country’s sacrifice has won it many supporters. Republican Senator Lindsey Graham believes the $60 billion to $70 billion package for Kyiv proposed by Biden this fall will pass. But he is concerned about the erosion of support for Ukraine within Republican ranks as well as who the next nominee for the Presidency will be. In an interview, he also pointed out that the Pentagon has discretion to continue sending weapons to Ukraine even if this fall’s Congressional allocation fails. “I’m not worried about the next six weeks. I’m worried about next year.”
There’s little doubt that Russia’s “infowar” is to blame for some slippage and is why Trump has no time for Ukraine nor do Slovakia and Hungary. But overall European and American leaders are supportive as are their electorates. This is odd, considering that anti-Ukraine voices dominate the American media, but the Chicago Council suggested that most naysayers are published because they are outrageous and simply newsworthy, not because they are credible. Its recent poll made the point and found that 63 percent of Americans favor continuing humanitarian and military aid to Ukraine, including 50 percent of Republicans. It added that a majority of polled Americans felt help should continue until Ukraine reclaims all of its territory that is occupied by Russia.
A September poll in Europe revealed the same level of approval. The breakdown was: 86 percent agree with humanitarian aid; 65 percent support financial and economic aid; 57 percent agree with military aid; 80 percent support granting asylum to Ukrainian refugees, and more than 70 percent favor economic sanctions against Russia. Two-thirds of Europeans want Ukraine to join the European Union eventually.
This is critical because Ukraine faces another bleak winter on the battlefield and in the air. Unlike Israel, with its crack air force and iron dome air defense system, Ukraine’s troops, cities, and infrastructure face constant missile and drone attacks. And Zelensky supported Israel publicly, despite its failure to contribute much to its war. His move was dangerous and may cost him the support of Arab and Muslim nations he had won in his fight against Russia, according to a piece in The Washington Post. “But it helped Ukraine stay in the international spotlight, and placed it firmly on the side of the United States.”
Ukraine’s support didn’t impress Israeli’s Benjamin Netanyahu who has been a pal of Putin’s and is supported by many of the 1.2 million Russians who live in Israel. So he rejected an offer from Zelensky to come to Israel in order to demonstrate solidarity, and told the Ukrainians the “time is not right”. Then on October 29, Ukraine's embassy in Tel Aviv requested that Israel ban Russian TV stations that operate in Israel for spewing Kremlin lies, including broadcasts claiming that Ukraine had armed Hamas, when the facts are that Russia does. “This is news that the Russian government spreads, with the intention of accusing Ukraine of being a part of the Russians' struggle against Israeli people," Ukraine stated.
Fortunately, Zelensky occupies the global limelight and has been the only leader pointing out the link between the two wars is that Russia and Iran are military partners. Not only did the assault by Iran’s proxy Hamas take place on October 7 which is Vladimir Putin’s birthday, but this week a Hamas leader stated uncategorically that “Russia is our closest friend”. It’s also notable Putin’s first foreign visit after he invaded Ukraine was to Tehran to visit with the Ayatollah in July 2022.
Ever since, Iran has supplied missiles and drones to Russia while Moscow has provided Iran with electronics and military expertise. Their poisonous partnership has been under-appreciated by the mainstream media, but its geopolitical consequences in Ukraine, Israel, and beyond are immense. “They are the same evil, and the only difference is that there is a terrorist organization that attacked Israel and here is a terrorist state that attacked Ukraine,” Zelensky recently told NATO.
Back home in Kyiv, the unpredictability of the US Congress has caused panic among many Ukrainians. The new Republican House Speaker pledged support but on October 28 said he would divide Biden’s spending request for Ukraine and Israel into two separate pieces of legislation. The first to be voted on allocates tens of billions for Israel, and another for Ukraine will follow. Biden had combined the two to remove the possibility that military aid to Ukraine would become hostage to other Republican demands. But it was a relief when MAGA disruptor, Matt Gaetz, said in an interview that many of his Freedom Caucus colleagues strongly support Ukrainian assistance as do most other Republicans.
The views expressed in this opinion article are the author’s and not necessarily those of Kyiv Post.
Reprinted from [email protected] - Diane Francis on America and the World
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