NATO Is Unified Now—The Question Is How Long That Unity Will Last

From a story on by Alexander Ward and Quint Forgey headlined “NATO is unified now. Will ‘war fatigue’ set in later?”:

NATO just showed unprecedented unity in the face of one of the alliance’s greatest-ever challenges. The question now is how long that unity will last.

President JOE BIDEN has an answer: Indefinitely. “We are going to stick with Ukraine and all of the alliance is going to stick with Ukraine as long as it takes to, in fact, make sure that they are not defeated…by Russia,” he told reporters in Madrid during a Thursday news conference.

That’s surely the broad sentiment after NATO agreed to boost its defensessignificantly while paving the way for Sweden and Finland to join the club. But cracks are already showing in the wall the West built.

For starters, world leaders fear their publics soon won’t be up for the fight. “War fatigue is coming everywhere,” Estonian Prime Minister KAJA KALLAS told our own ANDREW DESIDERIO and PAUL McLEARY during this week’s summit. “This has been going on for four months now. And there is high inflation, there is an energy crisis. Covid is not going anywhere. So this is becoming more problematic,” though she added, “we can’t be tired, because we have to help Ukraine defend their country.”

Fatigue is precisely what Russian President VLADIMIR PUTIN is counting on, as he hopes voters will punish their leaders for worrying about events in Ukraine instead of problems that are already creeping up at home.

There’s already bad news for Biden in the form of a poll commissioned by the pro-restraint and right-leaning Concerned Veterans of America (CVA). When YouGov asked “Of the following issues, which should be President Biden’s top priority?” a mere 8 percent out of 1,000 respondents answered, “Ensure a defeat of Russia in Ukraine.” “Lower or eliminate inflation” was the most popular answer at 38 percent. In fact, “solve the energy crisis,” “lower cost and improve access to healthcare” and “something else” all received higher response totals than defeating Russia in Ukraine.

“With historic economic challenges at home, it’s not surprising the American people are wary of taking on new security commitments abroad and starting a war with a nuclear-armed Russia,” said DAN CALDWELL, a senior adviser to CVA. Biden “should note that the American people would rather he focus his attention on issues here at home that are directly connected to the well-being of the American people.”

It doesn’t help matters that the midterm elections are fast approaching. Domestic issues will take center stage, and Republicans will be pressured to bash Biden over the economy and shy from fervently supporting the Ukrainian-resistance cause, we’re told, namely because of pressure from conservative media figures like TUCKER CARLSON.

Meanwhile, in the United Kingdom, the other country leading the pushback on Russia, politics continue to roil following a challenge to Prime Minister BORIS JOHNSON’s leadership last month. He survived it, but rebels within his own conservative party haven’t given up trying to dislodge him from power this year.

Four months into the war, Western resolve remains strong. But how strong — and long — will depend on if those pushing for continued Ukraine support can convince their people that more is required.

$820M IN WEAPONS FOR UKRAINE: As Biden previewed at the NATO summit, Pentagon press secretary TODD BREASSEALE just announced an additional $820 million in security assistance to Ukraine. The package includes:

  • Additional ammunition for High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS)
  • Two National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile Systems (NASAMS)
  • Up to 150,000 rounds of 155mm artillery ammunition
  • Four additional counter-artillery radars

While the HIMARS come from presidential drawdown, the NASAMS, ammunition and counter-artillery radars come from Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative funds which, per Breasseale, “is an authority under which the United States procures capabilities from industry rather than delivering equipment that is drawn down from DoD stocks.”
“The United States has now committed approximately $7.6 billion in security assistance to Ukraine since the beginning of the Biden Administration, including approximately $6.9 billion since the beginning of Russia’s unprovoked invasion on February 24. Since 2014, the United States has committed more than $8.8 billion in security assistance to Ukraine,” Breasseale said in a statement.

RUSSIAN MISSILE KILLS 21 NEAR ODESA: Ukrainian officials said 21 people were killed and dozens more injured today after Russian missiles hit a town near the strategic port city of Odesa, The New York Times’ EDUARDO MEDINA and VICTORIA KIM reported.

“One of the missiles hit a nine-story residential tower in Serhiivka, about 50 miles southwest of Odesa, killing 16 and injuring at least 38, according to Ukraine’s state emergency service. Another hit a recreational center, where five died and one was injured, emergency officials said on Telegram,” they wrote. “Rescuers completed the search for bodies at the tower, which was home to more than 100 people and which was destroyed on one side, according to the regional military administration. They were still going through the rubble of the recreational center, officials said. The missiles struck around 1 a.m.”

The Kremlin continues to deny that it purposefully targets civilians. But the strike comes just one day after Ukrainian artillery and missiles forced Russian troops to leave Snake Island, which is near Odesa.

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