How to maintain European support for Ukraine against the background of economic difficulties? (PARMENTIER – New Europe Center)

European support for Ukraine was at a record high during the seven months of full-scale war with Russia. However, given the economic difficulties, particularly the rise in energy prices, European societies have heard calls to reduce support for Ukraine. There is a widespread misconception that the alleged support of Ukraine, and not Russia’s aggression, negatively affects the well-being of Europeans. At the same time, political, economic, and military aid remains vital for Ukraine, especially in the context of the counteroffensive of the Armed Forces of Ukraine in the war, Putin’s announcement of mobilization in Russia, and threats to the world with nuclear annihilation.

Therefore, within its traditional rubric “New Europe Wonders” the New Europe Center addressed leading European experts with the following question: “What more can be done to make sure European societies continue expressing support and solidarity with Ukraine despite economic hardships caused by Russia’s war against Ukraine?”

The survey was also published by TSN.

A few key tips that European opinion-leaders gave:

  • the war should not disappear from the attention of the public, so Ukrainians should make efforts to ensure that the presence of Ukraine in the media remains high;
  • politicians, experts and evacuated Ukrainians should make gestures of gratitude and send signals to foreigners that their help has an impact;
  • EU citizens have to be explained Russia’s goals. In particular, the fact that the aggressor country is deliberately trying to put European societies and economies in front of threats, and Russia’s ambitions are not limited to Ukraine and are directed against the West. Thus, the economic difficulties are a consequence of Russia’s aggressive actions, and not the fact of the war itself.

Dr. Florent Parmentier, Secrétaire général, CEVIPOF – Centre de recherches politiques de Sciences Po (France)

The support of the Ukrainian cause among public opinions has been exceptionally strong thorough European societies during the first six months of the war. Despite divisions about the most favorable outcome that can be expected from the conflict, European unity has been impressive on imposing sanctions against Russia.

As time goes by though, it is true resilience of every European society will be increasingly challenged – a process that can be summarized as ‘the battle between the TV and the fridge’ (heroic resistance vs. costs of sanctions). The Ukrainian political leadership has been able to secure support thanks to efficient PR communication and operations. While the campaign for sending weapons should continue, it is important that Ukraine defines its own realistic expectations vis-à-vis each country. Blaming Germany, Italy or other countries might prove counterproductive in the mid run; their history is different from Poland and the Baltic States. They have a different experience of Russia as a partner or as a threat. Also, defining a strategy for reconstruction or relying on local initiatives (e.g. twinning) may be much more appealing for many supporters. In this situation, indifference would be a danger for Ukraine.