European heads of state are gathering for a crucial two-day meeting to discuss support for Ukraine. However, internal divisions within the European Union (EU) pose a significant threat to any substantial action in favor of Kyiv. This summit is taking place at a critical time for Ukraine, as President Volodymyr Zelenskyy seeks further aid in the fight against Russia’s invasion. Zelenskyy has been tirelessly advocating for support during his recent visits to Argentina, the United States, and Norway. Throughout his travels, he has consistently emphasized that reducing support to Ukraine would only benefit Russia’s President, Vladimir Putin.
European Council President Charles Michel, who will be chairing the summit, has emphasized the importance of making necessary decisions to protect the interests of the EU by supporting Ukraine. The European Commission proposed allocating 50 billion euros ($54.43 billion) to Ukraine between 2024 and 2027. However, Hungary, a member state of the EU, is blocking the disbursement due to its prime minister’s personal meeting with Putin in October. Furthermore, Hungary has expressed its reservations about starting official negotiations with Ukraine regarding potential future accession to the EU. Italy and several other EU member states have also raised concerns about enlarging the bloc. Despite these obstacles, Ukraine’s deputy prime minister, Olga Stefanishyna, believes that initiating official negotiations would provide a significant guarantee of Ukraine’s sustainability.
Since Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine nearly two years ago, western support for Kyiv has increasingly diminished. Data from the Kiel Institute reveals a staggering 90% drop in newly committed aid to Ukraine between August and October, compared to the same period in 2022. While the recent conflict between Hamas and Israel has diverted global attention, inflationary pressures have limited the capacity of Western governments to provide additional aid. Consequently, Ukraine has come to rely heavily on a core group of donors, including the United States, Germany, as well as several Nordic and Eastern European countries, which continue to pledge financial aid and crucial weaponry.
Russia continues to maintain a significant military advantage over Ukraine. Andrius Tursa, a Central and Eastern Europe Advisor at consultancy firm Teneo, notes that Russia’s availability of military equipment, munitions, and manpower surpasses that of Ukraine. This advantage is expected to persist at least until the first half of 2024. Russia has swiftly escalated its military output by mobilizing its economy for the war, while also acquiring supplies from North Korea and Iran. Moscow has also managed to maintain military recruitment without triggering visible public discontent, thereby compensating for substantial manpower losses.
Although the majority of the Russian population has shown support for Putin’s actions in Ukraine, recent surveys indicate a gradual decline in this support. According to a poll conducted by the Levada Center, 74% of participants either fully or partially support the war in Ukraine. It is crucial to monitor this changing dynamic within Russia as it may impact Putin’s decision-making and the potential for a peaceful resolution to the conflict.
The upcoming EU summit addressing support for Ukraine is overshadowed by internal divisions. Hungary’s opposition to the proposed aid disbursement and reservations about Ukraine’s potential accession to the EU highlight the challenges faced by the European leaders. Simultaneously, western support for Ukraine has dwindled due to competing global crises and inflationary pressures. Russia maintains a significant military advantage, posing a continuous threat to Ukraine’s security. As the political and military landscapes evolve, it is essential to closely observe shifting dynamics within Russia to gauge the potential for resolution and stability in the region.