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In Ukraine, winter is coming

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky welcomes U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin before their meeting, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, in Kyiv, Ukraine November 20, 2023.

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky welcomes U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin before their meeting, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, in Kyiv, Ukraine November 20, 2023.

Ukrainian Presidential Press Service/Handout via REUTERS

Ukraine faces a tough winter, and its Western backers know it. That’s why US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin made a surprise visit to Kyiv on Monday to signal “unwavering US support” for the country’s defense. It’s also why EU leaders will gather next month to set Ukraine on the long and winding road toward eventual union membership.


Despite recent advances across the Dnipro River and some long-distance hits scored against Russian forces in Crimea and the Black Sea, Ukraine’s much-hyped counteroffensive has done little to persuade American and European backers that Ukraine can win an outright victory against Russian forces. Fatigue is reportedly high as temps drop along the frontlines. President Volodymyr Zelensky is rumored to face internal feuds about what to do next.

Meanwhile, in the United States, Ukraine’s most important arms and money supplier, continued support is under heavy political pressure. Some conservative Republicans, including GOP presidential candidates, have begun to publicly demand an end to all funding for Ukraine. GOP presidential favorite Donald Trump wants to condition military and financial help for Ukraine on any and all evidence the FBI, IRS, and Justice Department have on, as Trump puts it, “the Biden Crime Family’s corrupt business dealings.”

For now, Ukraine has the weapons and money it needs to continue the fight. But Russian forces still occupy about 18% of Ukraine’s territory, and Western fears of a costly, long-term stalemate have Ukraine’s leaders hoping for warmer and brighter days ahead.

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