Readers submitted questions about the Western response to the war in Ukraine. Ellen Winter-Kirchhoff of Stuttgart, Germany, asked: “How do you Ukrainians view the response from the rest of the world?” We asked Jane Arraf, a correspondent who has been reporting from Lviv and Kyiv.
Generally, from people and officials in Ukraine, you hear a lot of gratitude for the support for Ukraine from Western countries. But that’s often followed up with “But we need you to do more.”
“You” of course means governments that were reluctant to send advanced weapons at the beginning of the war, fearful of turning it into an even wider conflict.
That barrier has pretty much been broken in the United States. Short of sending troops or air support, the country has dramatically increased the pace of arms deliveries, which are making a difference in Ukraine’s ability to defend itself.
What Ukrainians and their government continue to want, though — and what they know they are unlikely to get — is a no-fly zone patrolled by the United States and its allies. In Lviv there’s a big sign reading, “Close the skies, not your eyes.”
A lot of Ukrainians that I have spoken to point out that if there were Western fighter jets fending off Russian fighter planes, it would save countless lives. But that remains a step too far for NATO members, who desperately want to stop this war, but believe they can help do so without sending in their own military personnel and coming into direct military conflict with Russia.
The war, which has now lasted more than two months, is expected to go on for at least several more. But in devastated cities Ukrainian forces have taken back from Russian troops, there is already an expectation that Western governments will help rebuild. A lot of Ukrainians mention the Marshall Plan, the U.S. initiative that provided billions of dollars in aid to rebuild infrastructure and restart economies in Europe after World War II.
There is also, of course, gratitude for the support from ordinary people in the United States and other countries. The Russian invasion of a weaker country and Ukraine’s struggle against occupation has deeply touched citizens in the West, who have offered donations and moral support.
In the United States, along with other places, people are sending humanitarian supplies, and even funding weapons to send to the Ukrainian military. Several thousand foreigners have come here to fight.
The armed conflicts that I regularly cover in the Middle East generally fade from Western public attention quite quickly, even when it rises to the level of genocide, like the ISIS takeover of Iraq and Syria eight years ago. This war, though, is seen by many people in Western countries as much closer to home, and Ukrainians are grateful for the outpouring of support.