Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky already knows the weakening support of NATO member countries. Photo/Reuters
KIEV – Western governments could face defeat at the polls and hardship from the millions of Ukrainian refugees they host. President Vladimir Zelensky issued the threat if they did not maintain their aid to Kiev.
This threat is a signal of weakening support from NATO countries for Ukraine. In an interview with The Economist, Zelensky bemoaned weakening support from senior Western officials. He claimed to have been seen directly by them during the meeting.
“I see that he is not here, not with us” contrary to the assurance that was given,” he said.
According to Zelensky, failure to support Ukraine would mean siding with Russia in the conflict, which escalated into open hostilities in February 2022.
“If partners don’t help us, it means they will help Russia to win,” he said.
Zelensky believes that voters in the West will not forgive their leaders if they “lose Ukraine.” Further problems may also come from the millions of Ukrainian refugees now living in Western Europe. “They are generally well-behaved, but if the host corners these people, then the end result will not be a good story,” Zelensky added.
The Ukrainian leader says he is morally ready for a long-term war with Russia, but that this would require his country to shift to a fully militarized economy.
He added that now was a bad moment for peace talks with Russia, due to unsatisfactory battlefield progress during Kiev’s three-month summer ‘counteroffensive’. Moscow estimates summer losses in Ukraine at more than 66,000 troops and 7,600 heavy weapons.
The Economist noted that Zelensky’s administration had built up expectations for the attack, but now he is “carefully adapting his message to reality.”
Ukraine’s president also appeared to take credit for drone strikes deep inside Russian territory, which Kiev officially refuses to claim as its own. Explaining his strategy, he said public support for the Russian government would wane “because our drones are going to land.”
“In a long war, Moscow will lose regardless of how Russia feels because the Russian economy will fail,” Zelensky added.
The Russian government expects the economy to grow by 2.5% or more in 2023. Recent forecasts from the World Bank and IMF have upgraded their predictions for Russia due to strong industrial production and higher-than-expected energy revenues.