|Eve Valentine: Why do you think we haven’t seen any real signs of fatigue in Western support for Ukraine?
Chris Miller: It’s a pivotal question. A year ago—or even nine months ago—there were many, many predictions that the West would get tired of supporting Ukraine, and you’re right, that hasn’t really happened to any appreciable degree—in the U.S. or in Europe.
I think there are a few reasons why. First, the Ukrainians are, by all metrics, winning. They’ve steadily taken back territory from the Russians since Spring 2022. And on the back of those victories, it’s been very straightforward for supporters in the West to point out the very tangible benefits that supporting Ukraine has had on the battlefield.
Second, I think the Ukrainians have overall been very responsive and responsible about escalation risks. And because of that, it’s clear that U.S. President Biden and many European leaders aren’t concerned about the war spiraling beyond its boundaries. Although the Ukrainians have certainly wanted to push back against the Russians and hit them everywhere they can, they’ve also been mindful of the escalation risks that are certainly on the minds of Biden and other Western leaders. And so, while there are certainly disagreements, this has enabled a surprisingly smooth relationship, given all the complexities involved—between the U.S. and Ukraine, as well as European countries and Ukraine.
And then third, a lot of the ominous predictions about ways that Russia might try to expand the war beyond its current framework haven’t happened. In the early stages of the war, we were seeing forecasts of Russian cyber attacks in the West, of Russian nuclear attacks, and all sorts of other escalations that haven’t happened. Now, this doesn’t mean they can’t happen in the future. But the fact that they haven’t happened, so far, has provided a lot of of space for Ukraine’s supporters to say that not only are the benefits of support real in terms of battlefield success, but the costs are limited in relation to some of the catastrophic predictions people were making in the earlier stages of the war.
Valentine: There’s clearly a strong moral component in all of this—a view of Moscow as the authoritarian Goliath and Kyiv as the democratic David. How much do you think the overarching ethical sense of right and wrong is contributing to this enduring support for Ukraine?