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The ugly case for continuing to support Ukraine

By Leonid Bershidsky

04 May 2023 · 6 min read

Editor's Note

In the West, support for supplying Ukraine with weapons is wavering. To win over distrustful voters, governments will need to appeal to their basest instincts, argues Bloomberg's Leonid Bershidsky.

As the rich soil dries in Ukraine's south and east and the Kyiv-led military prepares to counterattack, it's a good time to revisit a key question for the invaded country's Western allies: "Is Ukraine worth supporting and if so, why?"

Throughout the West, support for supplying Ukraine with weapons has been wavering. In the U.S., the share of people who say the government is doing too much for Ukraine is on the rise, and in Germany, a steady majority contends that diplomatic efforts to resolve the conflict are insufficient. While the West's political and security establishment (with a few exceptions, notably Hungary) agrees that Russia must be defeated to uphold the liberal world order, prevent Russian aggression from spreading and teach a lesson to dictators tempted to follow Vladimir Putin's expansionist example, millions of people outside this establishment are unmoved by such arguments. For many who live in Germany, France or Japan, the liberal world order is at best an abstraction and at worst an attempt to put a favorable spin on American dominance. In any of these countries - and in the U.S., too - it's hard to imagine Russia attacking one's hometown as it has attacked Ukrainian cities. It requires less imagination, however, to fear a Russian nuclear strike on Western "decision-making centers" if Putin faces defeat in Donbass.

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