Why does support for Ukraine’s allies suddenly seem to be waning?
If international backing for Ukraine wavers even slightly, there are worries Russia could try and use it to swing the war in its favour – especially if there’s disruption to Ukraine’s supply of Western weapons.
So just how serious are these concerns? Here’s what you need to know.
What’s happening with the US?
The US Congress recently decided not to include $6bn (£4.92bn) for Ukraine in its budget, in a bid to avoid a temporary shutdown in the US government.
But, these domestic issues are unfurling just as Ukraine was looking to ask for more international funding.
Only last month, the Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy visited the White House to request more weapons, financial and military backing.
And, as the US presidential election creep ever closer, it’s only more likely to become a wedge issue.
So US President Joe Biden quickly asked then-House Speaker Kevin McCarthy to follow up with more funding pledges, to prove the hold-up was temporary.
“We are now working with both sides of Congress to make sure that it does not (get) repeated again under any circumstances,” Ukrainian foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba said on Monday.
UK defence secretary Grant Shapps also told the Tory Party conference in Manchester: “President Biden’s actually made it clear that it doesn’t change his view about the continuing gifting and financing. But of course domestic politics will play into it.”
But, since Shapps’ remarks, McCarthy has actually been removed as the House Speaker in the US.
Biden is still hoping that the next speaker will support Ukraine, but as the Republican Party continues to express frustration against continual support for the war-torn country, it’s still up the air.
What’s happening with Slovakia?
A pro-Kremlin nationalist, Robert Fico, has just been voted into power in Slovakia. as his party, Smer-SD, won 23% of the vote in the recent election.
Former member of the Communist Party and three time prime minister, he had to resign in 2018 after mass demonstrations against corruption in his government.
Now, he wants to rule for the fourth time – if he can pull together a coalition and form a government.
He added: “It is better to negotiate peace for 10 years and stop military operations than to let the Ukrainians and Russians kill each other for another ten years without results.
“This is not the way to resolve the conflict between Ukraine and the Russian Federation.”
Fico wants “immediate peace negotiations”, too and end economic sanctions against Moscow.
The frontrunner is known to be particularly friendly with Russia, and has made it clear that his role model is the Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orban.
Slovakia shares a short border with Ukraine, around 60 miles long, but he wants to end Western arms deliveries through Slovakia’s borders.
What’s happened with Poland?
Another of Ukraine’s close neighbours, Poland has been a vocal supporter for Kyiv for months now.
At Nato’s summit in July, Poland encouraged other nations to establish a clear timeline for Ukraine’s accession to the military alliance.
Poland has also registered 1.5 million people who fled Ukraine for temporary protection, and sent a whole range of weapons to fill up Kyiv’s arsenal.
But in mid-September, things started to go south as Warsaw prepared for its parliamentary elections in October 15.
On September 19, Zelenskyy accused some unnamed EU members of “feigning solidarity while directly supporting Russia”.
Warsaw summoned Ukraine’s ambassador to Poland – shortly afterwards, Polish PM Mateusz Morawiecki announced his country would not be sending arms to Ukraine anymore.
He claimed Poland needed the arms for himself.
The Polish president Andrzej Duda gave a statement at the UN where he compared Ukraine to a “drowning person clinging to anything available”.
Then there were the conflicts around grain.
Last year, it was agreed that Ukrainian goods would be allowed to go around Russia’s Black Sea blockade by moving through the EU.
However, in Poland, Hungary, Romania and Slovakia, local farmers were being crowded out by the abundance of Ukriane, in some cases leading to bakruptcy.
In 2022, Poland saw about 2.4m tonnes of grain imports. Before the war, it was around 100,000 tonnes.
In response, the EU briefly restricted domestic sales of Ukrainian wheat, maize, rapeseed and sunflower seed from May before lifting it in September.
Then Poland, Hungary and Slovakia went ahead with it anyway.
Ukraine filed a complaint against them with the World Trade Organisation, calling for financial compensation.
Luckily, Ukraine, Poland and Lithuania settled on a new plan to redirect grain inspections from the Poland-Ukraine border to a Lithuanian port on the Baltic Sea earlier this month.
Then, during a visit from Zelenskyy, Canada unknowingly gave a standing ovation to a Ukrainian veteran of a Waffen-SS unit – a unit accused of killing Polish and Jewish civilians on behalf of the Nazis during WW2.
It wasn’t long until the Polish education minister then said he was planning to secure the veteran’s extradition.
To make matters worse, in an announcement on September 26, Polish media suddenly said the missile that struck a grain silo in eastern Poland in November 2022, was fired by Ukraine – having originally said that it was manufactured in Russia.
So, is support waning overall?
No – overall, there is still a big body of support for Kyiv.
EU policy chief Josep Borrell reiterated on Monday: “Maybe it’s not being seen like this for everybody around the world, but for us, Europeans, allow me to repeat it: it’s an existential threat.
“And that’s why we have to continue supporting you and discussing with our American allies and friends for them to continue supporting you.”
The EU has already announced more than £60bn of military and civilian assistance for Ukraine over the next few years, too.
French foreign minister Catherine Colonna also said the meeting of her EU counterparts is a “demonstration of our resolute and lasting support for Ukraine until it can win”.
“It is also a message to Russia that it should not count on our weariness. We will be there for a long time to come,” she said.