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Diplomacy Watch: At G7 summit, West works to reassure Ukraine

Not much of the news coming out of Ukraine in recent months has been particularly positive

Reporting | QiOSK

Switzerland will host a summit this weekend aimed at shoring up global support for Ukraine’s war effort — and Washington and its Western partners are looking to ensure that Kyiv enters the meeting in as strong a position as possible.

Not much of the news coming out of Ukraine in recent months has been particularly positive. Russia has started taking Ukrainian territory for the first time since 2022, there has been increasing political turmoil in Kyiv, and morale among frontline soldiers continues to suffer. Last weekend, right-wing parties that are more skeptical of assisting Ukraine overperformed in European parliamentary elections, particularly in France and Germany.

Aid to Ukraine is unlikely to be affected for the time being. The EU parliament has little power to dictate foreign policy, and centrist parties on the continent won more seats overall. But many experts are interpreting the results as a potential sign of growing resistance to funding Ukraine.

More immediately, President Emmanuel Macron dissolved the French parliament and called for snap parliamentary elections in the aftermath of the EU vote, and if Marine Le Pen’s National Rally repeats its success and wins a majority in those elections, it could have a more direct impact on aid.

“If the gamble is lost by Macron and Le Pen and her group win and they get the national assembly, then assistance from France could be a bit turbulent,” Jim Townsend, a former Defense Department official told Politico. “On the Ukraine stage or on the defense stage, they will not be supportive of a lot of the stuff that Macron wants to do.”

Despite these setbacks, the U.S. is working to strengthen its partnership with Ukraine. At the G7 summit this week, Presidents Joe Biden and Volodymyr Zelensky announced a bilateral security pact.

“The deal — whose final details were expected to be announced later Thursday — will outline a long-term effort to train and equip Ukraine’s forces, promising to provide more modern weapons and help the Ukrainians build their own self-sustaining military industry that is capable of producing its own arms,” according to the New York Times, citing unnamed U.S. officials.

Though national security adviser Jake Sullivan said that the agreement means that “our support will last long into the future,” the Times report notes that it is ultimately only a deal between two presidents that could be in jeopardy if Donald Trump is elected in November.

“While Mr. Zelensky is expected to embrace the agreement at a news conference with President Biden on Thursday, the Ukrainians are skeptical of these accords,” according to the Times. “Without congressional funding, the support is largely rhetorical.”

At the summit, the Group of 7 also agreed to a $50 billion loan for Kyiv that will help Ukraine buy more arms and start to rebuild its infrastructure. The loan, which will be underwritten by the U.S, is expected to eventually be repaid through seized Russian assets.

In other diplomatic news related to the war in Ukraine:

— A new poll showed that nearly half of Ukrainians believe that the war is at a stalemate, but a majority of respondents still believe that Kyiv will eventually be able to reclaim all of its territory.

Forty-three percent of respondents said that Ukraine should negotiate with Russia to achieve peace. A large majority of Ukrainians, however, also indicated that they did not trust Russian motives, with approximately 80% saying that they believed Moscow would attack again if a peace deal were to be signed.

“The survey also found striking new divisions among age groups, with older Ukrainians more optimistic about Ukraine’s chances of prevailing militarily and less willing to seek a compromise with Russia,” according toThe Washington Post.

Late last month, the Biden administration quietly gave Ukraine permission to conduct limited strikes in Russian territory using U.S. weapons. Now, members of Congress are pushing the administration to give Kyiv even broader discretion. In a letter sent to Biden, Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas) called on the president to allow Ukraine to use American long-range ATACMs to strike Russian targets supporting the ongoing offensive as well as airfields.

“Under your current restrictions, however, Ukrainian forces are only able to strike near Kharkiv in Russia,” the letter reads. “This policy restriction defies congressional intent and must be revised immediately to best allow Ukraine to defend its territory and win this war.”

Politico reported on Thursday that Democrats were also pushing Biden to allow Ukraine to strike deeper in Russian territory. “It has to be a constant effort to look and really to have a good sense of where the red line is,” said Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.). “We crossed a dramatic sort of threshold when we said ‘OK, you can use these weapons systems even if they are directed to activities in Russia.’ And so far, the Russians have kind of accepted it. It would not surprise me if, over the course of the next several weeks, range increases are allowed.”

— In another policy shift by the Biden administration, the State Department announced this week that it was lifting the ban on the use of American weapons by the notorious Azov Brigade in Ukraine.

“Naturally, this latest move by the State Department has been celebrated by Azov and met with rebuke in Moscow,” Artin DerSimonian wrote in RS this week. “However, this development also signals that the situation on Ukrainian front lines has become so acute that even a ban on an armed unit with ties to human rights violations and neo-Nazism is now being revoked.”

U.S. State Department news:

In a Thursday press briefing, State Department spokesman Matt Miller was asked about detained Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich's upcoming trial.

"There is absolutely zero credibility to those charges. We have been clear form the start that Evan has done nothing wrong. He should never have been arrested in the first place; journalism is not a crime," Miller said. "The charges against him are false, and the Russian Government knows that they are false. He should be released immediately. And I can tell you that on behalf of the United States Government, we will continue to try to work – or we will continue to work to bring home Evan Gershkovich and Paul Whelan every day."

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