November 23, 2022

The U.S. Should Continue Supporting Ukraine—Americans Want To

Originally published in TIME

The Ukrainian liberation of western Kherson Oblast on November 11 was a major victory. It has not ended the terrible pressure under which Ukrainians find themselves, however. Russian President Vladimir Putin unleashed another wave of missile attacks almost immediately after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky outlined the terms on which Kyiv would be prepared to negotiate. These Russian attacks emphasized their willingness and effectiveness at inflicting extensive damage to civilian infrastructure in an effort to reach their political objectives. The outcome of this war will turn partly on the West’s willingness to continue supporting Ukraine but also on the fortitude of Ukrainians themselves. On the latter point there is cause for much optimism.

Ukrainians are showing remarkable resilience under increasingly sophisticated Russian attacks which target access to basic services and critical civilian infrastructure. In the past few weeks, Russian aerial strikes and kamikaze drone attacks have destroyed 40 percent of Ukrainian energy infrastructure and left 80 percent of Kyiv houses without water. In Kherson, the retreating Russian forces damaged power stations, heating systems, TV tower. Ipsos analysis of nightlight shows the city going completely dark on November 9th. Despite this, overwhelming majorities of Ukrainians who had to leave their homes near the front lines or in areas recently liberated from Russian occupation want to return home and rebuild their country, recent Ipsos polling shows. Ongoing Russian attacks on Ukrainian civilian infrastructure are likely to continue depriving growing numbers of Ukrainians of heat, hot water, and clean water going into the winter, and Ukraine will need Western help beyond military assistance to survive these attacks and rebuild. Providing that help is in America’s interest, and according to recent Ipsos polling, Americans agree.

An Ipsos survey conducted October 7 through 20 in the frontline cities of Mykolayiv, Dnipro, Zaporizhzhia, and Kharkiv and in newly liberated towns of Balaklia, Izyum, Kupyansk, and Lyman in Kharkiv and Donetsk Oblasts found that four in five respondents who left since the invasion intended to return home despite the difficult conditions they are likely to find. This is due to the fact that unlike in many recent refugee crises, majority of Ukrainian refugees are women, elderly and children who are separated from their conscripted husbands, fathers and brothers. This factor as well as close-knit sense of belonging to a place and pre-established community-based kinship and business networks are likely driving this desire to come back home.

Continue reading here.