Readers submitted questions about the Western response to the war in Ukraine. Ellen Winter-Kirchhoff from Stuttgart, Germany asked, “How do you Ukrainians see the response from the rest of the world? We asked Jane Arraf, a correspondent who reported from Lviv and Kyiv.
Generally, from Ukrainian people and officials, you hear a lot of gratitude for the support given to Ukraine by Western countries. But this is often followed by “But we need you to do more.”
“You” of course means governments that were reluctant to send advanced weapons at the start of the war, fearful of turning it into an even larger conflict.
This barrier has practically been broken down in the United States. Failing to send troops or air support, the country has dramatically increased the pace of arms deliveries, making a difference in Ukraine’s ability to defend itself.
What the Ukrainians and their government continue to want, however – and what they know they are unlikely to get – is a no-fly zone patrolled by the United States and its allies. In Lviv there is a big sign saying “Close the sky, not the eyes”.
Many Ukrainians I spoke to pointed out that if there were Western fighter jets to fend off Russian fighter jets, it would save countless lives. But that remains a step too far for NATO members, who desperately want to stop this war but believe they can help do so without sending their own military personnel into direct military conflict with Russia.
The war, which has now lasted for more than two months, is expected to last at least several more months. But in the devastated towns that Ukrainian forces recaptured from Russian troops, Western governments are already expected to help rebuild. Many Ukrainians point to the Marshall Plan, the US initiative that provided billions of dollars in aid to rebuild infrastructure and revive economies in Europe after World War II.
There is also, of course, gratitude for the support of ordinary people in the United States and other countries. The Russian invasion of a weaker country and Ukraine’s struggle against the occupation deeply affected Western citizens, who offered donations and moral support.
In the United States, as well as other places, people are sending humanitarian supplies and even funding weapons to send to the Ukrainian army. Several thousand foreigners have come here to fight.
The armed conflicts that I regularly cover in the Middle East usually fade from Western public attention fairly quickly, even when they rise to the level of genocide, such as the takeover of Iraq and Syria. by ISIS eight years ago. This war, however, is seen by many in Western countries as much closer to home, and Ukrainians are grateful for the outpouring of support.