Support for Ukraine: Aid Must Not Be Abandoned Amid Middle East Tensions

Even as the world’s eyes are focused on the escalating conflict in the Middle East, Ukraine’s counteroffensive against Russian aggression continues. The United States, Europe and Japan must not relax their unity and must continue supporting Ukraine.

At a summit in late October, the European Union unanimously reaffirmed its policy to “continue to provide strong financial, economic, humanitarian, military, and diplomatic support” to Ukraine.

In response to soaring fuel costs and inflation, calls have emerged in EU countries to shift funds for Ukraine assistance to helping those countries’ own people.

In the Eastern European nation of Slovakia, a political party that advocates suspending support for Ukraine won the general election and formed a new government. In other countries, too, including Germany, there are indications that the public is feeling a sense of “assistance fatigue.”

The latest agreement reached by the EU leaders may be aimed at preventing this trend from spreading.

The international community’s attention has been focused on the humanitarian crisis in the Palestinian territory of Gaza spurred by the fighting between Israel and the Islamist group Hamas. It would be undesirable if the attention paid to Ukraine declines and international public opinion to press Russia to stop its aggression weakens.

The Ukrainian military’s counteroffensive is being prevented from advancing by strong Russian defensive lines. To bring the fighting to an early end before aid fatigue spreads in the United States and Europe, it is necessary to bolster military assistance to Ukraine, such as through the provision of long-range missiles and fighter jets.

However, opinions calling for priority to be given to military assistance to Israel have become more conspicuous in the United States. A situation in which funding is not appropriated for Ukraine aid and support is delayed would only benefit Russia.

In the first place, there is no prospect of securing additional funding for U.S. assistance to Ukraine due to opposition from hard-line conservative elements among opposition Republicans. There are fears that funding for Ukraine assistance could run out before the end of the year.

The United States has emphasized that protecting Ukraine will help maintain an international order based on the rule of law. The U.S. should be aware that its international influence will be weakened if support for Ukraine is put on the back burner due to internal political disputes or leaning toward Israel.

Ukraine is about to enter a severe winter. There is a strong possibility that Russia will, as it did last winter, use missiles and drones to target infrastructure facilities that supply electricity and heating in Ukraine.

It is essential to strengthen air defense systems and set up shelters installed with generators and heating in case such facilities are destroyed.

Japan has provided high-power transformers to Ukraine. Continued efforts must be made to support the civilian sector.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Nov. 6, 2023)