A recent poll by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs indicated that Americans are sharply divided on whether to continue supporting Ukraine in its war with Russia. The poll showed that the percentage of those who think Washington should call on Kyiv to negotiate with Moscow rose to 47%. The percentage of those who think the US should continue to support Ukraine as long as necessary dropped to 48%.
This clearly is a convergence of positions. There is an erosion of what the media described as Western public support for the decision to support Ukraine. Undoubtedly, the convergence of support and rejection of support for war and peace could be an important determining factor in any future decision regarding a position on the war in Ukraine.
But this change may not have an impact on the Biden administration (unless there is Republican opposition in the Senate) since the percentage of Democrats in favor of continuing to support Ukraine remains very high. About 61% of Democratic respondents favor continuing support for Ukraine in its war with Russia. Only one-third of Republican respondents support the same.
Two-thirds of Americans also support welcoming Ukrainian refugees and sanctions against Russia. The percentage of Americans supporting a call for Ukraine to come to the negotiating table rose from July (38%) to last November (47%). This clearly is a significant decline in support for Ukraine in its war with Russia.
The same or higher percentage can be found in European societies, given that the center of the greatest suffering from this war lies mainly in Europe. It can also be found in Russia itself, and even among Ukrainians. Societies get tired of the idea of war and conflict, even if they go to defend legal rights, and after a while they move on to consider their daily lives and livelihoods.
Why are people getting tired of the Russian war on Ukraine?
Global attention to the Ukraine war has diminished considerably, both in the media and politically. The coverage has become mostly about the war’s effects on the lives of people in most countries of the world, and its impact on the economies of all countries.
THE IMPLICATIONS of the war on the political and strategic levels are still at forefront of global attention. The question is over the position of the US, European countries, and Russia itself, toward the resolution of the war and peace efforts, and to what extent the parties are inclined to sit down at the negotiating table. The answer may seem complicated, given the current circumstances.
But there are signs of calm that seem timid, despite the desire of all sides to stick to their positions. Everyone understands that, having initially stating a willingness to negotiate, there may be a negotiating price to pay later. This is not something that all sides, which have paid a high price in this war, want to do.
There is some evidence that conflicting messages are being sent to confuse the other side. First and foremost is the US position, which officially denies its connection to Ukraine’s strikes on Russian air bases on December 5 and 6. Some experts claim that Ukrainian drones used US GPS data to hit Russian targets.
The media even quoted NATO sources as saying that data from US satellites were necessary for the Ukrainian strikes. These sources said that the old Russian drones had been converted into cruise missiles equipped with new Ukrainian guidance systems that work on US satellite data, and Ukraine could not conduct these strikes without relying on US data.
NATO sources spoke out of a desire to warn that NATO was close to getting involved in a war in Ukraine, and to warn the US of any Russian reaction in this regard. Overall, US military circles in particular seem more convinced that Russia and Ukraine will not be able to resolve the war in the foreseeable future.
General Mark Milley, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, has already confirmed this. It is likely that what is happening now is a consolidation of positions and a depletion of opportunities for the other side to come to the negotiating table.
But this scenario seems far-fetched because President Vladimir Putin does not acknowledge the negative influence that pushes him to negotiate, and Kyiv will not move closer to negotiations as long as it still receives Western military and financial support.
Continued Western military and financial spending in support of Ukraine may push Western capitals to find a political solution to the crisis, given the difficulty of incurring these high costs, with all economies deteriorating because of this war.
Therefore, Russia seeks to strengthen its military position, regardless of losses, in order to prove to the West that pushing it to change its position, or even unilaterally declaring a cessation of hostilities, is realistically difficult.
THE EVIDENCE presented here demonstrates the validity of Russia’s bid in light of renewed talk of a German-French offer to provide security guarantees for Russia, including Ukrainian neutrality. This does not mean that Russia would risk continuing the war at any cost. The Russian economy is also suffering.
The war is losing popular support, and there are other difficulties related to conscription, compensation for lost military equipment and other things. This explains Putin’s statements that the threat of nuclear war is growing. But at the same time, he emphasized that Russia “has not gone crazy” and will not be the first to use its nuclear weapons.
This statement again alarmed American circles. But it does not so much imply escalation as it warns of the consequences of escalation, along with another message related to the need to seek a way out in order to end this war. Putin’s desire to deny any “crazy” behavior is a response to some analyses based on the unpredictability of the Kremlin’s decisions.
It is as if Putin wants to say that he is fully aware of the consequences of nuclear war and will not initiate it. It is a rational statement that carries no threatening message.
The dilemma in all this debate is that there is a real fear that the war in Ukraine will fade into oblivion, like many conflicts around the world, or remain on the margins between war and peace without an agreement that will actually end the war, given the lack of military targets for bombing and the fear of targeting cities and civilians with the international criticism that this entails.
But in fact, the consequences of a catastrophic war may prevent it from being largely forgotten. It will remain in the spotlight as long as there are serious negative effects on the world economy, which experts estimate will face one of its worst periods in nearly three decades due to rising energy prices.
The writer is a United Arab Emirates political analyst and former Federal National Council candidate.