Top national security experts are now predicting that the war in Ukraine will last longer than expected.
“A war that Vladimir Putin thought was over in days has now been going on for months,” US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Sunday at a press conference in Berlin.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg shared a similar assessment earlier this month, when he told the Washington Post that the fighting could easily turn into an “unresolved conflict”, neither side ‘being willing to make the necessary concessions to any agreement.
“We have to be prepared for this to last a long time,” he said.
While governments have pledged to support Ukraine until diplomatic terms can be negotiated, the domestic politics of a protracted war are less straightforward.
And as the war reaches its 125th day, polls suggest that Americans are increasingly worried about its rising costs.
Funding platform Devex revealed that the United States and other foreign governments gave over $100 billion in economic and military aid to Ukraine between February 24 and June 7. Data from the Kiel Institute for the World Economy reveals that the United States has given more than all other nations and donor institutions combined.
But given rising inflation and political uncertainty in the country, Bruce Stokes, visiting senior fellow at the US’s German Marshall Fund, said European experts he spoke to fear the American and European resolve to support Ukraine does not end up weakening.
“Europeans are asking questions about America’s toughness and their own,” he said. Newsweek. “There seems to be uncertainty about the American political system, which could translate into uncertainty about America’s role in Ukraine.”
Morning Consult polling data suggests that US support for financial aid to Ukraine has already atrophied.
Some 86% of American voters are at least somewhat concerned about the Russian invasion of Ukraine, according to the Monitoring the Russia-Ukraine crisis. However, only 46% of US voters currently agree that the government should impose sanctions on Russia even if it drives up the price of goods, compared to 56% who agreed with the April statement. .
The data also showed that for the fourth week in a row, the share of American voters who say their government should impose sanctions on Russian oil and natural gas, even if it drives up energy prices, is now minority, from a high of 55% in April to just 46% this week.
Compared to Democrats, approval of these policies among Republicans is even lower. While 55% of Democrats support it, only 39% of Republicans support sanctions regardless of how property prices rise. And while 55% of Democrats support sanctions despite rising gas prices, only 42% of Republicans agree.
These disparities may reflect the rise of what Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnel called “isolationist sentiment” within the party.
Despite his public pronouncements, the share of Republican voters who say the United States is doing “too much” to stop the Russian invasion of Ukraine has risen from 13% in March to 23% in the latest poll.
And although it received unanimous support from Democrats, 57 Republicans in the House and 11 in the Senate voted against it. Supplementary Appropriations Act for Ukraine in May, which eventually passed, to provide $40 billion in aid to Ukraine.
On the international stage, Biden officials have tried to allay fears about wavering domestic support.
After the U.S. Department of Defense announced an additional $450 million in military assistance on Thursday, bringing total U.S. security assistance during this conflict to $6.1 billion, Secretary of State Antony Blinken reaffirmed the country’s commitment to Ukraine.
“We are giving Ukraine the support it needs to defend itself for as long as it takes, and we will continue to do so,” he said.
But as officials affirm those commitments, Stokes points out that Biden’s foreign policy decisions and his handling of the economy will be judged on the ballot in the upcoming midterm elections in November.
And with Biden’s current approval ratings at 36%, he added there were reasons European allies doubted the United States’ ability to meet certain long-term commitments.
Only 21% of Americans have “great” confidence in Joe Biden’s ability to handle the situation in Ukraine, according to an AP poll conducted in May. This percentage drops to just 2% among Republicans.
Citing public opinion data in the United States, Stokes said: “There is evidence that part of the American public is saying, ‘We support what we are doing in Ukraine,’ but there is also some hesitation emerging as to what more we should be doing.”
Helping to stoke some of that disapproval is former President Donald Trump, who repeatedly criticized NATO throughout his presidency.
At his Save America rally in Illinois on Saturday, he criticized Biden’s foreign policy strategy and described America as a once-great nation.
“Two years ago it was the greatest nation in the world,” he told the crowd. “But it’s not a great nation anymore; it’s a nation in decline. It’s no longer independent or energetically dominant like it was just two years ago.”
“He went to Afghanistan and allowed Russia to devastate a country (Ukraine), killing hundreds of thousands of people. It will only get worse,” he later warned, adding “That would never have happened with me.”
Stokes said these increasingly intense attacks from some Republicans, combined with low approval ratings and rising inflation, bring uncertainty to Biden’s foreign policy strategy going forward.
“Trump has raised serious doubts in the minds of Europeans about whether they can trust the United States in the future,” he said. Newsweek.
“What Europeans fear is that America will one day say, ‘The war is over, we’re going to go back to Asia, that’s your problem, and go and rebuild Ukraine,'” he said. .
“So I think there’s a concern, not only about the drop in support for the war now, but also whether the support would be there to rebuild Ukraine, assuming we had the chance,” he added.