How Russia is playing the delay of US aid to Ukraine

February 9, 2024
While Ukraine awaits further US financial and military aid, Russia wastes no time, proclaiming Western weakness and inability to assist Kyiv.

The United States of America has allocated the largest amount of security aid to Ukraine than any other country. According to the Kiel Institute for the World Economy, which administers the Ukraine Support Tracker index, despite the recent increase in EU countries' aid to Ukraine, the US still ranking #1.

Thus, even if the United States has not yet approved the next large funding before the US election cycle is in full swing, it doesn't mean it won't happen. On December 7, the US Senate didn't include a motion about aid to Israel, Ukraine, and Taiwan on the agenda because the Republican senators wanted the Biden Administration to include funding to secure the southern border.

The situation with US assistance to Ukraine in late 2023 is similar to the end of 2022. President Zelensky then addressed Congress with a historically emotional speech, and hours after that, both chambers of Congress approved the funding, including US aid to Kyiv. However, even in that speech, by late 2022, Zelensky acknowledged that more assistance would be needed to repel Russians from Ukraine fully.

Regarding US security aid to Ukraine, roughly 60% of the $113 billion allocated would be spent in the United States, creating more job opportunities in the defense sector.

While the Biden Administration and Congress are in close talks over the Ukraine and Israel funding compromise, Ukraine and the United States facilitated the special Ukrainian-American Defense Industrial Base Conference in Washington, DC.

Given the circumstances, the joint production of arms and ammunition with Ukraine's largest partner is a long-term solution for meeting Ukraine's needs on the battlefield. In particular, the initiative will lay the groundwork for producing air defense systems and critical munitions.

At the same time, Russia perceives the temporary delay t of US aid to Ukraine as a major victory in recent months. In addition, Russia accelerated its propaganda to push the narrative 'negotiation scenarios' between Moscow and Kyiv.

Ukrainian intelligence services expect) Russia to pursue disinformation on Ukraine's leadership. The very leadership is currently in negotiations with its partners to secure strong support for Ukraine.

That said,  Russia intensified its rhetoric about the need for "peace talks" to legitimize its occupation of the Ukrainian territories right before Putin announced his reelection bid. Putin once again claimed that Russia was open to peace talks with Ukraine. However, Russia continues to attack Ukraine with dozens of drones and missiles daily and is conducting a massive offensive in the East of the country, attempting to seize new territories.

Ukraine's Foreign Minister  Dmytro Kuleba reminded that between 2014 and 2022, Ukraine held about 200 rounds of talks with Russia. "During this period, 20 cease-fire agreements were reached, all of which Russia soon after violated. None of the 200 rounds of talks or the 20 ceasefires have prevented Putin from launching a brutal all-out invasion of Ukraine on February 24th, 2022", he stressed.

However, Russians continue to claim that a temporary delay in the US aid will result in the US abandoning Ukraine forever and that Ukraine will be left to fight Russia alone.

Moreover, Russia considers that the US assistance to Ukraine has reached its barrel-head implying thus that the US lacks the resources to assist one of its European partners in a time of crisis.

Before that, the Russian President's press secretary also stated that America would run out of paper, leaving it unable to print money. It is clear Russia will intensify its anti-western propaganda for the foreseeable future, including calls for a ceasefire and negotiations, while Ukraine still has a lot of territories to reclaim.

Simultaneously, Russia accelerates these talks while introducing new narratives, such as: "NATO will not send its troops to Ukraine because it fears Russia will defeat them." From a broader perspective, it means that Russia still considers its war against Ukraine as an ideological war against the West. That's why recent statements by US officials claiming that, by late 2024, the United States wants to fortify Ukraine's position while weakening Russia's will likely be manipulated by Russian bloggers and analysts.

In a deft geopolitical maneuver, Russia is exploiting the temporary delay in US aid to Ukraine to fuel its propaganda narrative, portraying it as a sign of Western incapacity to support Kyiv effectively. Despite this, the US remains Ukraine's foremost military and financial support contributor, a commitment underscored by the Ukrainian-American Defense Industrial Base Conference aimed at joint arms production. Russia's stepped-up disinformation campaign, coupled with its call for peace talks even as it continues its aggressive military actions in Ukraine, reveals a strategic effort to undermine Western resolve and legitimacy.

Vladyslav Faraponov
Analyst at Internews Ukraine, Head of the Institute of American Studies