Next year, 2024, will be a year of power transition, particularly in the United States, several European countries, and possibly even in Russia, suggests Myroslava Gongadze, head of Voice of America’s Eastern Europe office.
She believes that Ukraine must therefore be ready for changes and adopt“survival tactics,” strengthening its own capabilities.
Gongadze spoke to Radio NV on Nov. 7 about why Ukraine cannot be left to deal with Russia alone.
NV: Are we witnessing the beginning of a change in the West's strategy for supporting Ukraine?
Gongadze: These sentiments did not in fact just appear today. These moods or fatigue from Ukraine, as we have feared, started somewhere at the beginning of autumn. And for me personally, there is nothing new in what is happening now — it was to be expected.
And this was clearly understood already from President Zelenskyy’s visit to Washington, when, first of all, the White House and the State Department tried to explain to Ukrainian authorities the clear requirements regarding the internal reforms which Ukrainian authorities must carry out. At the same time, the fact that President Zelenskyy was not so warmly welcomed in Congress was already a sign.
And we have talked about how moods are changing. They are changing not only in the United States, but in Europe and other countries. And in connection with the situation in the Middle East, with Hamas’s attack and Israel’s military operation, all this completely shifted the emphasis from Ukraine to the Middle East.
President Biden, many experts point out, was very wise to combine Israel and the Ukrainian problems into a logical ring of joint struggle, a common struggle for democracy. And this is actually, as observers say, the only way for Ukraine today to receive additional aid. And as we know, there have been signs from the White House over the last two days that President Biden is prepared to veto the bill — another House Republican bill to provide aid only to Israel if there is no aid to Ukraine. The State Department and the White House claim that aid to Israel and Ukraine is a matter of U.S. national security, and only this bill can be passed. If it does not pass as proposed, it does not resolve U.S. national security issues.
Thus, the White House is trying to encourage those skeptical Republicans who say they are not ready or are trying to divide the bill.
The day before, there was a hearing in the Senate where both [U.S. Secretary of State Antony] Blinken and the head of the Pentagon [Lloyd Austin] spoke to convince U.S. lawmakers that it was both countries that needed help and that it should be taken as a package. In fact, it is the Senate, not the House, that is bent on passing this bill as a package. But there are also those saying that the aid should be separate. Even Republican senators said the majority supported the [aid] package.
In the House of Representatives, the situation is a little different. The House just had a long competition for its speakership, and now they seem to have set some additional conditions of their own [to end the competition]. That is, the situation is actually quite complicated in all directions.
NV: What are the chances that there will be a majority in the House of Representatives that will vote for the package?
Gongadze: The radical wing of the Republican Party, which actively supports former President [and presidential candidate Donald] Trump, caused not only this split in aid, but also the resignation of the previous speaker. They have a certain trump card in the process. And they will have to be negotiated with, somehow.
As I observe, the White House is very clearly trying to balance and explain to them — to push, let's say, this decision. It is difficult to say what the chances are.
These 12 conditions for the White House, [the fulfillment of which is necessary for further assistance to Ukraine], are logical, but there is no evidence at this stage that any untoward manipulations are taking place in Ukraine with U.S. military assistance specifically. And all U.S. government bodies, including USAID, are talking about this. There are also special observers working here. All of them say unanimously that there is no manipulation with the military and financial aid that comes from Western partners. Let's see if they can prove it.
NV: In your opinion, could the idea of a Ukrainian victory without aid continue to progress in Western societies?
Gongadze: I have doubts, as both the leadership of the Pentagon and the leadership of NATO say that this is completely unrealistic at this stage. Therefore, the assistance must continue. And the task of Austin and Blinken was to explain that this aid is in fact a matter of Ukraine's survival and victory.
And they clearly said that if Russia advances here, then Russia will not stop in Ukraine. This is a question of a wider conflict.
And I have no doubt that some have questions or doubts that help should be provided. These questions are of the political nature and this entire process is used in political interests. We must also remember that in the United States, as in many European countries, election campaigning has begun. In Europe, it has ended in some countries, but it will start again, because in a few months elections to the European Parliament will begin.
It is not known whether there will be elections in Ukraine. This is also a question. There are also the elections in Russia. I'm getting ahead of myself a little, but next year will be a question of the transition of power in many countries. And in fact, there will be many changes, if you analyze what is happening in and around Europe. Ukraine must be ready for these changes and build its survival tactics, strengthening with its own resources, as well.
NV: The only thing that is clear is about the situation in Russia and the results of these elections, which are very easy to predict, given that Russian dictator Vladimir Putin is apparently alive.
Gongadze: I wouldn't be so sure.
NV: What do you think could happen?
Gongadze: A transfer [of power] could also occur. We will see. All these reports about the so-called death of Putin are made for something. And they come from Russian sources. What kind of rumors are these? Why do they happen? Is a transfer of power possible there as well? I would not be so certain that we have a clear picture of the future for Russia.
NV: And do you think that this transfer of Putin's power could be part of agreements of certain segments of the Russian political elite which are looking for a dialogue with the West?
Gongadze: I am not sure that this is a matter of dialogue with the West. I am more inclined towards it being a matter of a power struggle in Russia itself today.
NV: Let's go back to the war. Congresspeople depend on their constituents, as that's how democracy works. American voters, and even in the run-up to the presidential election, are told that war is a heavy financial burden, but isn't that what is draining the great and mighty America?
Gongadze: Ukrainians in America have a very powerful community. And we saw it last week when we organized a huge convention of Ukrainians in Washington. When 600 Ukrainians from all regions (and these are voters) came to Washington, they went to their congresspeople to force them to do something. They [politicians] are really dependent [on their voters]. This electoral resource is really important. Therefore, there are high expectations.
These people can do a lot for Ukraine. They must be respected, protected, and valued as a resource. It is also necessary to appreciate this resource in Europe, as these people are basically ambassadors for Ukraine. Unfortunately, there are not many Ukrainian immigrants in the parliaments of other countries. They do not run for local offices, or for parliament. And it seems to me that this is also an idle resource that could be used in some way to influence the governments of those countries.
If we talk about domestic politics, elections are one of these levers of influence that the Ukrainian resource can use.
NV: In the United States, do they understand that there will be a blow to their image as the leader of the free world if Ukraine is left alone to deal with Russia?
Gongadze: Only a certain group of people understand these risks. Not all. And certain groups of people take the opposite position, and actually want that to happen.
But I was always taught not to answer hypothetical questions. And you are asking this hypothetical question now. I am almost convinced that this will not happen in such a crystallized form. There will be a decrease, perhaps, but support will remain.
I think we should look at the meetings between Chinese and U.S. leadership, which are set to take place in the near future. I think that this will be a certain sign of the further development of the situation.
Now we may be talking about the war in Ukraine, but everyone understands that we already have a Third World War. It is still smoldering at certain points, and it has not yet been fully unleashed. And the future of not only Ukraine, but the future of the world depends on the wisdom of today's national leaders.
Read the original article on The New Voice of Ukraine