Why a stalled Ukrainian offensive could represent a huge US political problem

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One of Ukraine’s greatest tragedies as it pursues a critical offensive that has, so far, failed to meet its own and Western expectations is that it cannot, by itself, decide its destiny, notes CNN.

A stalled offensive and a winter stalemate, for instance, would have particular ramifications in the United States since it could heighten questions over US support for the war that will be pushed into an acrimonious election year. Americans are braced for a potential clash between President Joe Biden, who revived the Western alliance and is Ukraine’s most critical outside supporter, and ex-President Donald Trump, a NATO skeptic who admires Putin and has pledged to end the war in 24 hours, likely on Putin’s terms. And even if Trump is not the GOP nominee in 2024, ebbing public support for the war could hurt Biden.

Therefore, for political, as well as strategic reasons, there is huge pressure on Ukraine’s long-awaited counteroffensive this summer to produce significant battlefield breakthroughs. But so far, the push is more of a slog than a blitzkrieg.

It’s too early to say the Ukrainian offensive is running out of time despite the looming arrival of fall weather that could make major maneuvers more difficult.

But does the West have the forbearance to give Ukraine the time it needs? A lack of big breakthroughs against Russia in the coming weeks will give Western policymakers little choice to consider the wider political context of the war, even if there is no end in sight.

Biden is already working on a new supplemental funding bill that will likely be ready for Congress to consider by the end of the year. The measure will be the most important test yet of the House GOP majority’s willingness to continue throwing billions of dollars at the war, despite deep skepticism among many Republicans.

Any suggestion that Ukraine’s offensive has been bogged down will deepen that skepticism over a prolonged US commitment. While foreign policy is rarely a deciding factor in presidential elections and the war in Ukraine is not a dominant issue in the GOP primary, some party supporters in early voting states like Iowa and New Hampshire do raise it and question US generosity after months of high inflation, which, even if it’s cooling, has contributed to persistently dour views of the American economy.

A new CNN/SSRS poll last week reflected the political complexities in the US over the war, with 55% of voters now saying Congress should not authorize additional funding to support Ukraine. Some 51% said that the US has already done enough to help, while 48% say it should do more.

Still, given ebbing US public support for the war, Biden could face a complicated task in explaining prolonged US support for Ukraine during another bloody summer as he runs for reelection next year.

So when US voters decide their own futures in November 2024, there’s a good chance they will be playing a large role in sealing Ukraine’s fate as well, CNN stresses.

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