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11 Sep, 2023 12:34

Zelensky ‘senses’ weakening Western support

EU nations may face anger from Ukrainian refugees if aid to Kiev dwindles, the president warns
Zelensky ‘senses’ weakening Western support

Western governments could face defeats at the ballot box and trouble from the millions of Ukrainian refugees they host, if they do not maintain their assistance to Kiev, President Vladimir Zelensky has warned.

In an interview with The Economist, Zelensky complained about weakening support from senior Western officials, which he claimed to have seen in their eyes during meetings. 

“I see that he or she is not here, not with us” contrary to spoken assurances, he said, according to the interview published on Sunday.

According to Zelensky, failure to support Ukraine amounts to siding with Russia in the conflict, which escalated into open hostilities in February 2022.

“If partners do not help us, it means they will help Russia to win,” he stated.

Zelensky believes that Western voters will not forgive their leaders if they “lose Ukraine.” Further trouble may also come from the millions of Ukrainian refugees now residing across western Europe. They have generally “behaved well,” but if their hosts “drive these people into a corner,” the end result will not be “a good story,” the president added.

The Ukrainian leader said he is “morally” ready for a long war with Russia, but this will require the country to switch to a “totally militarized economy.”

He added that now is “a bad moment” for peace talks with Russia, due to the lackluster battlefield progress over the three months of Kiev’s summer ‘counteroffensive’. Moscow has estimated Ukrainian summer losses at over 66,000 troops and 7,600 heavy weapons.

The Economist noted that the Zelensky government had built up expectations for the offensive, but now he is “carefully adjusting his message to reality.” 

The Ukrainian president also appeared to take credit for the drone attacks deep inside Russian territory, which Kiev formally refuses to claim as its own. Explaining his strategy, he said public support for the Russian government will fall “because our drones will land.”

In a “long war,” Moscow will lose regardless of how the Russians feel because the Russian economy will fail, he added.

The Russian government expects the economy to grow by 2.5% or more in 2023. Recent forecasts by the World Bank and the IMF have upgraded their predictions for Russia due to strong industrial production and higher-than-expected energy revenues.

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