European Council President Charles Michel met Wednesday with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in Kyiv — which he called the “heart of a free and democratic Europe” — and pledged to “do everything possible to make sure that Ukraine will win the war.”
A long-term war poses political challenges for Ukraine since, if the war drags on for years, it will have to keep its political system intact and its democracy alive, according to Liana Fix and Michael Kimmage. The next presidential elections in Ukraine are scheduled for spring 2024—exactly when the next Russian presidential elections will be held. But Russia’s election will be fake, and Ukraine’s will be real, they write for Foreign Affairs:
A war of attrition might help Putin exert pressure on the transatlantic alliance, especially if support for Ukraine starts to wane in the West. Putin sees Western democracies as unstable and inefficient, and may be betting on political transitions in Europe or the United States as the strain of the war grows over time. … He is a dictator. Convinced that their hold on power is eternal, dictators can often afford to play the long game. Or at least they think they can.
As the political philosopher Alexis de Tocqueville warned, “No protracted war can fail to endanger the freedom of a democratic country.” Ukraine will have to prove him wrong, Fix and Kimmage conclude. RTWT
On the other hand, Vladimir Putin’s war of aggression against Ukraine, a brazen attempt to overthrow the freely elected government of another state, could accelerate the antidemocratic trend across Europe and Eurasia, according to a new Freedom House report. Domestically, Russia has entered a new era in the Kremlin’s suppression of dissent, it adds.