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Stalemate Ukraine highlights undiminished importance of support

Photo: Demonstration in support of Ukraine in February 2022 - Wikimedia Commons


Almost two years ago, Russia launched its large-scale invasion of Ukraine. With support for Ukraine no longer a foregone conclusion, a good outcome of the war is increasingly uncertain. The fighting lurks on and the risk of another frozen conflict lurks. Support for Ukraine from the West thus remains undiminished in order to continue to undeniably convey that sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence are non-negotiable.

Latest developments

Figures are hard to verify but, according to US estimates, the counter now stands at more than 70,000 Ukrainian and 120,000 Russian servicemen killed, in addition to over 10,000 civilians killed (as of 24 February 2022). However, the war in Ukraine began back in 2014. It shows the huge toll of the Kremlin's expansionism and historical revisionism.

Changes on the front are very limited. The Ukrainian counter-offensive - also known as the spring offensive - last summer did not produce the intended results. Pieces of land along the east bank of the Dnieper were recaptured from the Russians with great difficulty, but a veritable breakthrough of the Russian defence line failed to materialise. Currently, many lives are being sacrificed in the battle for a few kilometres. Towns on the front line like Avdiivka and the now well-known Bakhut are especially symbolically very valuable. The now-destroyed towns are the boiling point of the confrontation between two powers handing out stings back and forth to each other. Russia is still attempting to take full control of the Luhansk and Donetsk regions, even if it costs thousands of lives for the few metres moved. During the winter months, airstrikes regularly take place on cities and critical infrastructure far from the front, to show that the war is still a daily reality for a lot of Ukrainians.


Unjustifiably, international (media) attention to the war has waned in the past year. It is no longer of 'current value' to many and there are few major changes. The seriousness of however, the situation on the ground has changed little since the time when there was still daily attention on the war. Every day, many people still find death, both military and civilians. Concerns in Ukraine about Western support are growing. The fear of entering a full-blown stalemate is becoming more real by the day. This, unfortunately, is something the country has already experienced and it knows what this would mean - namely that annexed territory will not return and Russia will again make a further claim on what is currently Ukrainian territory in the future.


The current hesitation from the West will prolong the war and only increase the chances of Russian success. If support falters, it will provide a moral incentive for the Russian leadership to continue the conflict as it wishes. Besides, it is plausible that Putin's hunger does not stop at Ukraine - as already indicated several times by neighbouring countries in the Baltic States. Providing military and financial support As such, it is not only about protecting Ukraine, it is about the security of the entire European continent. A number of Ukraine's key partners realise this, such as France and Germany, but with the most important partner - the US - support is at risk, as it is with EU member Hungary. In December, Orbán held up a €50bn European aid package through a veto speaking out. Awareness of the risks posed by a losing Ukraine does not seem to resonate with all partners in the West. Shortly after the invasion, the West expressed its unconditional support, but the conflict continues longer than hoped and countries are no longer willing to express their support indefinitely. A right-wing wind is blowing through Europe and they see the war mainly as waste of European money.

Internal tensions

Meanwhile, Ukraine also continued to face internal political tensions. Some disagreement between President Zelensky and Commander-in-Chief Zaluzhny, as a result of the failed counter-offensive, came under the light late last year. After two years without major successes and growing war weariness, a scapegoat was sought. Zaluzhny, in an interview with The Economist that the war in a "stalemate" had been hit. According to analysts, this would possibly imply that the time has come for talks with Russia. Zelensky reacted with outrage, calling such statements dangerous. The media picked up this disagreement as a potential crack in the unanimity at the Ukrainian summit. In retrospect, these turned out to be purely magnified speculations. Consequently, few Ukrainians actually believed that there were serious disagreement were and are instead convinced that both have the country's best interests at heart. The vast majority of Ukrainians still have a positive view of the future, but the percentages are falling - 73% in December 2023 versus 88% in October 2022. Sustained support is the only thing that can turn the tide and keep optimism and morale high.


Ukraine's success depends on support from the West. With the risk of losing the US as a partner on this front after the autumn elections, it is imperative that European countries join forces and can guarantee support for Ukraine to ensure security on the continent and enable a strong Europe. As NATO Admiral Rob Bauer indicated at a meeting in Brussels last week this requires a different view of security. Words are not enough - financial and military support is all that matters.