Why is support for Ukraine declining?

Flag of Ukraine
Alfie Johnson

On 24 February 2022, the world was stunned as Vladimir Putin signalled to commence air and missile strikes across Ukraine, as Russia launched a simultaneous ground and air campaign against their neighbouring country. The world came to a standstill, as horrific images of death and destruction emerged out of Kyiv. Love and support were sent to Ukraine from the outside world as millions were moved by the atrocities that were occurring thousands of miles away. However, a year on, the love and support that was once so robust have seemingly eased away. Alfie Johnson explores why Western powers who were so quick to support Ukraine have now taken a step back, in what is perilous times for President Zelenskyy’s Ukraine.


The initial support for Ukraine from Western powers was undeniable, as the world united to fight back against Russian aggression. Since February 2022, the EU has sent over $30 billion in military assistance to Ukraine, ranging from ammunition to air-defence systems, fighter jets, and leopard tanks, which is still increasing today. Also, Ukraine was both financially and politically backed, as world leaders such as Former British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, US President Joe Biden, and French President Emmanuel Macron all expressed their support whilst condemning Russia’s actions. Support even transcended sports as minutes of silence were held globally for lives lost in the awful conflict. So, this poses the question of when, and more importantly, why, this support started to decline.

Despite Rishi Sunak’s recent pledging of the UK government’s continued commitment to Ukraine at the Conservative party conference and Biden’s reaffirmation of US support for ‘as long as it takes’, this is arguably only political rhetoric that isn’t fully supported by action. However, there may be good reason for this. The fact that we are living in a post-pandemic era and the cost of living crisis is clearly a crucial limitation on Western countries’ spending that is often left behind in our minds. Western countries are not able to deliver financial support to Ukraine constantly without neglecting their own needs, which many are unsurprisingly unwilling to do. The US are a prime example of this, as their sending of $46 billion worth of bilateral aid to Ukraine has been heavily criticised by Americans, amidst an inequality and immigration crisis.

Perhaps selfishly, arguably the most significant factor is the fact that from a Western perspective, a key motivation of military aid to Ukraine was to avoid Russian aggression threatening the rest of Europe. However, due to the initial support from the West, the Ukrainian army has been able to heavily damage Russia’s military capabilities, as for instance, Russia losing over 2000 tanks in the invasion. As a result, Russia now poses less of a threat to Europe, with it potentially taking more than a decade for them to become a serious threat again, decreasing the political importance of sending aid to Ukraine.

However, the reason for declining Western support might be far more straightforward. As the chairman of the NATO military committee, Admiral Rob Bauer, recently warned, Western weapon stocks are low, and there is little hope of them being replenished soon. A well-documented issue has been the limited sale of arms to Ukraine, and this may plainly be due to a lack of resources for Western countries, who are struggling with increasingly stretched budgets in their current economic circumstances.

Not only is support declining for Ukraine, but support is increasing for Russia in some parts of the West, with pro-Russian parties gaining prominence. Countries including Slovakia and Bulgaria have been identified as countries that support Russia’s invasion, with over a fifth of participants in Slovak Academy of Sciences’, ‘How Are You, Slovakia?’ survey stating they would welcome a Russian victory. A primary justification which has been suggested for this is Russian propaganda, which is gathering momentum, as Western powers are failing to counter Kremlin’s narratives. Disinformation from Russia on platforms such as X has also been pronounced, which may have influenced the views of those who are beginning to support Russia and their claims to territory.

Finally, it would be challenging to write this article without mentioning the undoubted effect that the conflict between Israel and Palestine has had on support and attention surrounding the Ukraine and Russian conflict. Considering that prior to the conflict between Israel and Hamas, media coverage surrounding Ukraine and Russia was already declining, it is clear that another significant global conflict has somewhat caused a diversion in focus away from Ukraine. We are undoubtedly easily distracted creatures who have a tendency to focus on the latest story, which clearly has not helped Ukraine’s cause of receiving more attention and aid subsequently.

Western attention and support towards Ukraine is vital in its fight against Russia. Without it, Ukraine is left stranded and vulnerable to one of the most significant military forces in the world and against the dogged persistence of Vladimir Putin, who will seemingly not rest until he takes control of Ukraine. To me, it is clear that support for Ukraine cannot be neglected not only to save the lives of millions of innocent people but also to send a message to Russia and Putin that we will not allow their tyranny to bear fruit. So my message to the Western powers would be, as President Zelenskyy once said, ‘No support, no victory’.

Alfie Johnson

Featured image courtesy of Yehor Milohrodskyi via Unsplash. Image License found here. No changes were made to this image. 

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