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Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky speaks during a press conference in Kyiv, Ukraine, on November 25, 2023.

Maxym Marusenko/NurPhoto/Reuters

Ukraine funding gets tied in knots

Ukraine has been warning for months that it won’t be able to continue resisting Putin’s aggression without further Western support. But that aid is starting to dry up, right as Kyiv’s fight against Russian invaders settles into a stalemate. What’s happening?

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President Joe Biden and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky walk to the Oval Office of the White House, Thursday, September 21, 2023, in Washington, DC, USA.

Evan Vucci/REUTERS

White House: Money for Ukraine is running low

The Biden administration on Monday warned Congress that it’s on the verge of running out of money to support Ukraine in its fight against Russia, imploring lawmakers to act before the end of the year. In a letter to congressional leaders, Office of Management and Budget Director Shalanda Young emphasized that if US aid stopped flowing it would “kneecap Ukraine on the battlefield” and increase the “likelihood of Russian military victories.”

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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

In Ukraine, winter is coming

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.

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Why the Israel-Hamas war is so divisive
Why the Israel-Hamas war is so divisive | Quick Take | GZERO Media

Why the Israel-Hamas war is so divisive

Ian Bremmer's Quick Take: Ian Bremmer here and a Quick Take to kick off your week. And more from the Middle East, the story that continues to dominate the headlines.The story that continues to dominate the headlines. And right now, foreign ministers from across the Middle East and the Muslim world, including the Palestinian foreign minister in Beijing and soon to be in Moscow and soon after that, to be in London and Paris to talk about efforts to contain and end the war in the Middle East. The Chinese foreign minister calling for an immediate ceasefire, also calling for a two-state solution, agreeing with the Americans on the latter, not agreeing with the Americans on the former. This is an environment where pretty much everybody involved is trying to get an end to the fighting except the United States, which is the most important ally, the critical ally of Israel.

And the Israelis intend to continue their military strikes until they feel like they have destroyed Hamas on the ground. And that means not just in Gaza City, but also it means in the south of Gaza. This is causing difficulties inside the United States with stronger opposition inside the Democratic Party, especially among young people where Biden is under water wanting a much more balanced, much less pro-Israel policy. And Republicans who on balance think that Biden has been too soft in his support for Israel. This means that Biden's at 40% approval right now, the lowest of his administration to date. And it's hard to see this getting any better any time soon. I think that the Israelis are clearly having military successes on the ground in Gaza. And when you talk to the generals, they feel like they're on the timeline they want to be. They are finding the tunnels, finding the militant leaders, able to go after with impunity, those that are there. Of course, the very fact that Hamas is fighting inside a civilian area, that they have tunnels underneath schools and hospitals, and that's where they're putting the hostages. And we've seen those videos now that are confirmed and where they're putting their military equipment makes Hamas responsible for a lot of the civilians that are getting killed, but also makes the Israelis responsible in the global environment for not being able to take out Hamas unless they put massive numbers of civilians at risk.

And so what you have is the Israelis winning, at least tactically, the military battles on the ground, whether one can destroy Hamas or extremist militarism against Israel through bombing and a ground war is another longer question. But losing the information war where around the world and including in the United States, there is just a lot more sympathy increasingly for the Palestinians. Only six weeks after the worst terrorist attacks, the worst violence against Jews anywhere in the world since the Holocaust. That is the reality.

And, you know, it's very different in this regard than covering the Russia-Ukraine invasion, where, first of all, the Ukrainians were winning the information war and also it was very clearly a black versus white struggle. I mean, these were, you know, not that the Ukrainians are Democrats and didn't have problems with corruption, but they were minding their own business. They wanted to join NATO. True. That's a decision that is made by a sovereign country. But they weren't threatening Russia. They weren't invading Russia. They were doing nothing to Russians in the Federation. And that was even true despite years of annexation illegally by the Russians of Ukrainian territory. So it was very clear when the Russians invaded Ukraine that the Russians were at fault and that the question is how can you respond to that? It was black and white.

In the case of Israel and Palestine, it is very clear that Hamas is responsible for October 7th. That's clear. But it's also clear that the Israelis have engaged in a lot of illegal actions in taking Palestinian territory on the ground in the West Bank and continue to occupy territory that is not theirs that nobody thinks is theirs and not prepared to do anything about it. It's also clear that the Israeli government had been supporting Hamas in undermining the Palestinian Authority and in refuse thing to consider a two-state solution under Netanyahu and his far right coalition. So, I mean, it's not black and white. There are different shades of gray. There are you know, it's very easy to say that Hamas is a terrorist organization and that means they should be destroyed and Netanyahu is a bad leader and that means he should be voted out. But there's no equivalence between these two leaders. But saying there's no equivalence doesn't mean that one is good and the other's bad. Here we are talking about different shades of illegal activity and we're also talking about different shades of behavior that is causing immense amounts of responsibility for human suffering.

And you can't simply say that Hamas is only responsible for all the people that are getting killed. You can't say that. You can say they're mostly responsible because they're the ones that have the hostages. They're the ones targeting the civilians. They're the ones putting civilians in harm's way. But certainly the Israeli Defense Forces deserve some culpability for their willingness to, you know, have a siege and not allow in humanitarian aid. And their willingness to engage in attacks that are going to take out some militants, but are going to risk the lives of far more civilians. And, you know, how do you balance that? Is it 90:10 Hamas responsible? Is it 70:30? Is it 80:20? I'm not sure I care, you know, doing a percentage as I am in recognizing that we have to describe the nuance. We have to be reasonable in not trying to play one side off as purely responsible and guilty and bad, that the only way this is going to lead to peace is if Hamas is removed, if they are destroyed as a terrorist organization. Number one. If there are prospects for peace for Palestinians to have livelihoods in Gaza and the West Bank going forward, and if Netanyahu and his far right coalition are removed from office, those things are all necessary antecedent conditions before we can have stability in the region.

That's where we are. So it's not an easy conversation. It's a nuanced conversation. It's one that makes almost nobody satisfied and happy in a way that on Russia and Ukraine, it was very easy to be on team Ukraine, even though they frequently lied about stuff in terms of propaganda and support of the war. And their government wasn't 100% clean and isn't 100% clean. But it's still very easy to say the Ukrainians deserve their territory back. It's much harder in this environment on Israel-Palestine to put your thumb on one side of the scale, you have to have a broader conversation if you want to be accurate and if you want to have peace. And that's where we are, and that's part of the reason why it's been so damn difficult to get peace in the Middle East for decades and decades, why the Americans, like many others, have kind of given up on it in favor of just trying to create stability with everybody else. And that worked to a degree. But now we see it wasn't enough. And so we're going to have to go back yet again in one of the most challenging geopolitical missions that we face in the world today.

So that's it for me, but I'm sure we'll be back to this real soon.

Tens of thousands of Israel supporters march on the National Mall in Washington, DC, on Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2023.

REUTERS/Leah Millis

Hard Numbers: March shows solidarity for Israel, US Army overturns convictions of Black soldiers, US inflation cools, EU falls short on artillery shells for Ukraine, House passes funding bill

100,000: Tens of thousands flocked to the National Mall in Washington, DC, on Tuesday to show their solidarity with the Jewish state amid its push to eradicate Hamas in Gaza following the Oct. 7 terror attacks. Several Jewish groups helped organize the event to demand the release of Israeli hostages and to push back against a rising tide of antisemitism. Organizers anticipated a crowd of 100,000 demonstrators, but some estimates suggested the turnout may have been nearly triple that.

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Commander-in-Chief of the Ukrainian Armed Forces Valery Zaluzhny attends a meeting with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in July 2023.


Troubling accusations in Ukraine

Did Ukraine plunge Europe into the dark last year? That’s the charge from unnamed Ukrainian officials, who claim Col. Roman Chervinsky, of Ukraine’s special operations forces, coordinated a sabotage operation that caused three explosions at the Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines on Sept. 26, 2022. The pipelines run from Russia to Germany under the Baltic Sea, and Nord Stream 1 (Nord Stream 2 wasn't in use yet) provided about 35% of the gas European Union states imported from Russia prior to the war.

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Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskiy and Commander in Chief of the Ukrainian Armed Forces Valerii Zaluzhnyi visit an artillery training centre, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, at an undisclosed location in Ukraine November 3, 2023.

Ukrainian Presidential Press Service/Handout via REUTERS

Are divisions emerging in Ukraine’s politics?

Ukraine has elections scheduled for 2024, but President Volodymyr Zelensky doesn’t believe they should take place. “This is a time for defense,” he warned, “a time for battle, upon which the fate of the state and its people depend.” Zelensky also rejected any suggestion that the failure of Kyiv’s five-month-old counteroffensive to score major gains against Russian invaders leaves Ukraine’s war at a stalemate.

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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen take part in a ceremony honoring Railway Workers at the Central Railway Station in Kyiv on Nov. 4, 2023.

Ukrainian Presidency via ABACAPRESS.COM via Reuters

Is there support for a diplomatic settlement for Ukraine?

As the Israel-Hamas war intensifies, there’s talk that Ukraine is being pressured to seek a settlement in its war with Russia, now in its 20th month.

On Saturday, a current and a former U.S. official, both anonymous, claimed US and European officials have spoken to Kyiv about possible peace negotiations. The speculation follows an Economist interview with Ukrainian Commander-in-Chief Valery Zaluzhny who said the conflict has hit a stalemate, and that unless Ukraine acquires more advanced weaponry and information technology, “(t)here will most likely be no deep and beautiful breakthrough.”

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