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Right turn against Ukraine may be imminent

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In a virtual address to the United Nations General Assembly last week, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky was clear about the endgame. He refused to make concessions to the Kremlin, called for military aid to help “return the Ukrainian flag to the whole territory” and urged the international community to punish Russia for its invasion of his country and the atrocities allegations that his forces have since committed.

“Russia will be forced to end this war, the war it started,” Zelensky said. “I rule out that the settlement could occur on a different basis.”

Ukraine’s president received a rare standing ovation after finishing his speech, a sign of global sympathy for his cause. No matter how frustrated Kyiv was with the ambiguity of countries in the “non-aligned” world, many of whom maintained friendly relations with Moscow as the war raged, Ukrainian officials had reason to feel comfort after diplomats issued many harsh rebukes to Russia at the United Nations. Concern over Moscow has been all the more pronounced as it took two escalating steps last week – greenlighting illegal and sham ‘referendums’ in areas of Ukraine controlled by Russia, while ordering a partial mobilization of some 300,000 additional Russian troops.

Even more “neutral” powers have expressed their disapproval of a Russian war effort that is widely seen as a violation of international law and the principles of the United Nations Charter. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi insisted that “the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries must be respected”. His Indian counterpart, Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, warned that “blatant attacks in broad daylight” would go “unpunished”.

With Kalashnikov rifles, Russia leads the organized vote in Ukraine

But even as Russia’s international reputation takes further blows, Ukraine may have reason to worry about changing tides in Western democracies. Analysts have long worried about the West’s stamina in defending Ukraine, aware of growing worries about soaring energy prices and old suspicions about the liberal establishment in Brussels and Washington. This determination has largely endured as we enter the eighth month of the conflict. But polls show little interest from some voters in supporting Ukraine, especially as economic challenges pile up closer to home.

Electorally, Europe is experiencing a mini-surge of traditionally Eurosceptic, pro-Russian political factions. The far right has emerged as kingmakers in Sweden’s ongoing coalition talks. And on Sunday, Italian voters elected what will likely be a coalition of right-wing parties led by the far-right Brothers of Italy and charismatic politician Giorgia Meloni.

Meloni herself has rhetorically backed Kyiv in recent months, but key allies have made no secret of their affinity for the Kremlin. Matteo Salvini, head of the Nativist League, questioned the effectiveness of sanctions against Russia. Silvio Berlusconi, Italy’s former prime minister, took to Italian television this month to defend Putin, a longtime friend on the world stage.

“Putin was pushed by the Russian population, by his party and by his ministers to invent this special operation,” Berlusconi said. “Troops were supposed to come in, reach Kyiv within a week, replace Zelensky’s government with decent people, and then leave. Instead, they found resistance, which was then fueled by weapons of all kinds from the west.

Centre-left challenger Enrico Letta responded scathingly: “These remarks show that in part of our electoral system, on the right but not only, there are those who, in short, say: ‘Let’s stop this war, let’s give to Putin what he wants.’ I find that unacceptable.”

Italy set for glass-ceiling vote and right-wing shift

Certainly, the polls in Europe after the February 24 invasion show significant drops in approval for Russia and Putin among right-wing populist parties, especially in Italy. But like a recent Pew survey noted, these right-wing parties still remain much more positive towards the Russian regime than the rest of the public in their societies. Such sentiments underlie a controversial ‘investigative’ trip organized by politicians from Germany’s far-right AfD party to Russian-held areas in Ukraine, which was canceled only last week after a massive backlash over the possibility that German elected officials will directly reinforce Putin’s action. propaganda machine.

As the war drags on, Ukrainians and Western strategists fear that public skepticism about the track record of sanctions against Russia – which has seen energy prices soar in Europe – and the heavy financial outlay to prop up Kyiv can increase. The illiberal Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who has long resisted EU pressure on Russia, announced on Monday his intention to launch a “national consultation” on the continent’s sanctions regime.

There is also the risk of growing indifference. Bench recently found that fewer Americans are more worried about the prospect of a Ukrainian defeat than they were in the spring, and a large majority now believe that the current aid to Ukraine is sufficient.

This is not surprising given the tens of billions of dollars in support already disbursed by the Biden administration. Pew also found that American Republicans are more likely to believe their government give too much to Ukraine too little. Disgust with the costs of war is influencing the upcoming midterm elections, while part of the Republican base – championed by former President Donald Trump and cultivated by notoriously Putin-friendly Fox News host Tucker Carlson – has long harbored sympathy for Putin’s Russia.

“I think we’re at the point where we’ve given Ukraine enough money,” JD Vance, Ohio’s Republican Senate nominee, said this month. “I really do.”

Experts believe the latest round of congressional sanctioned funding for Ukraine may be the last to pass smoothly through the US legislature. “It would be too simplistic to say that this is one problem more than another at this stage. But voters are talking to conservative members of Congress,” Mackenzie Eaglen, defense expert at the center-right American Enterprise Institute, told Politico. “It’s really driven from the grassroots to Washington and not the other way around.”

Democrats, meanwhile, find themselves in unusually hawkish positions relative to their national rivals. “The Ukrainians are making serious progress and should continue to make progress next year,” Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) told The Washington Post. “If the Republicans win the House and people start saying they’re done funding Ukraine, that has potentially catastrophic effects on Ukrainian morale and their ability to fight.”

War in Ukraine: what you need to know

The last: Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a “partial mobilization” of troops in an address to the nation on September 21, describing the move as an attempt to defend Russian sovereignty against a West that seeks to use Ukraine as a tool to ” divide and destroy Russia”. .” Follow our live updates here.

The fight: A successful Ukrainian counteroffensive has forced a major Russian retreat into the northeastern Kharkiv region in recent days, as troops fled towns and villages they had occupied since the early days of the war and abandoned large quantities of military equipment.

Annexation referendums: Organized referendums, which would be illegal under international law, are set to take place September 23-27 in the breakaway regions of Luhansk and Donetsk in eastern Ukraine, according to Russian news agencies. Another organized referendum will be organized by the Moscow-appointed administration in Kherson from Friday.

Pictures: Washington Post photographers have been in the field since the start of the war. Here are some of their most powerful works.

How you can help: Here’s how those in the United States can help support the people of Ukraine as well as what people around the world have donated.

Read our full coverage of the Russian-Ukrainian crisis. Are you on Telegram? Subscribe to our channel for updates and exclusive video.



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