Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky declared that if America pulls military support from his country, the United States will “lose NATO” and its global leadership position.
Speaking at a press conference in Kyiv (Kiev) on the one-year anniversary of the full-scale Russian invasion of his country, Zelensky responded to a question on the growing unpopularity of continued support for the war in Ukraine in the United States by criticising Americans who do not want to continue to send arms and billions of their taxpayer dollars to his administration.
“If they do not change their opinion, if they do not understand us, if they do not support Ukraine, they will lose NATO, they will lose the clout of the United States, they will lose the leadership position that they enjoy in the world,” Zelesnky warned.
“They will also lose the support of [Ukraine] with 40 million people, with millions of children. Are American children any different than ours?” he demanded.
According to a Gallup poll earlier this month, nearly half of Republican respondents (47 per cent) believe that the Biden administration is doing too much to support Ukraine. In contrast, 41 per cent of Democrats said that they think the United States is not doing enough, while independents are currently evenly split, with 35 per cent coming down on each side of the issue.
Since this time last year, the United States has sent over $113 billion in military and humanitarian aid to Ukraine, despite the country not being a NATO member and the potential of the war spreading from a regional conflict into a broader war between Western powers and the Russian Federation.
While some Republican members of the House Freedom Caucus, such as Florida Representative Matt Gaetz, have threatened to block funding to Ukraine, it is unclear if such a challenge would be successful, given the support from the neo-con wing of the party for the war effort.
Indeed, earlier this week a delegation of Republican lawmakers, led by House Foreign Affairs Committee chair Rep. Michael McCaul, travelled to Kyiv to pledge their “support to give Ukraine everything that it needs to win.”
On Friday, President Joe Biden was questioned on growing questions among the public as to how much longer the government will continue to pour billions into the notoriously corrupt nation.
The 80-year-old Democrat responded: “Well, first of all, I’m not sure how many are asking. I know the MAGA crowd is. The right-wing Republicans are talking about, we can’t do this. We find ourselves in a situation where the cost of doing — of walking away, could be considerably higher than the cost of helping Ukraine maintain its independence.”
America’s role as the chief financier of the NATO alliance came under increasing scrutiny during the Trump administration, with the former president questioning why the American public should continue spending money to protect European countries who not only failed to meet their NATO defence spending requirements, but also sent billions to Russia in exchange for energy.
In July 2018, President Trump said: “It is very sad when Germany makes a massive oil and gas deal with Russia, where we’re supposed to be guarding against Russia, and Germany goes and pays out billions and billions of dollars a year to Russia. We’re protecting Germany, we’re protecting France, we’re protecting all of these countries.”
“We’re paying a lot of money to protect [them]. This has been going on for decades… it’s very unfair to our country, it’s very unfair to our taxpayers… these countries need to step it up, not over a ten-year period, but immediately.”
Ultimately, Trump’s hardline rhetoric on the world stage was credited by NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg for securing $100 billion in additional defence spending from European allies.
While he was successful in ramping up military spending at home and in Europe, Mr Trump has also been one of the leading voices in America to call for immediate peace negotiations between Moscow and Kyiv.
However, there seems little appetite among the current leaders in Washington, London, Paris and Berlin to bring an end to the war any time soon.