Are the strategic objectives of the West and Ukraine still aligned? If not, what next? – Sean Bell, military analyst, put a question on the Sky News program.
Despite political rhetoric, most nations are driven by parochial self-interest.
Wars rage around the world, but the international community rarely intervenes.
So why the support for a non-NATO nation in the immediate aftermath of an international pandemic and amid a domestic cost of living crisis?
Russia has long been identified as a potential threat to Western interests, and defence budgets have been focused accordingly.
After the humiliating demise of the former Soviet Union, Vladimir Putin aspired to make Russia great again, to become a global superpower, and to provide a counter to an expanding NATO.
Russia’s extensive natural gas and oil reserves provided economic power, and an increasing Western dependency on Russia’s energy supplies emboldened Mr. Putin.
Moscow’s aggression presented a direct threat to Europe, and if Ukraine failed, where next?
The West could not let Russia prevail; a common sense of purpose galvanised international efforts to provide military support to Kyiv.
The objective? To stop Russia from threatening Europe.
Russia no longer poses a credible threat to Europe. The Western objective of this conflict has been achieved.
Having achieved their strategic objective, Western governments must also address the cost of living crisis, domestic priorities, and re-building national weapons inventories.
Indeed, a recent CNN poll revealed that most Americans oppose Congress authorising additional funding to support Ukraine in its war with Russia.
There is little doubt that publicly, Western political leaders want to support Ukraine ”whatever it takes”. However, the harsh reality is that Ukraine’s objectives are no longer aligned with their backers.
So where does this leave President Zelenskyy and Ukraine?
There is commitment to support Ukraine’s current counteroffensive, but there will be increasing scepticism whether Zelenskyy’s ultimate objectives are achievable, or supportable.