Almost 18 months after the outbreak of the war in Ukraine, there is unfortunately a clear shift in the American public sentiment towards the conflict, one that has repercussions for all of Central and Eastern Europe.
As the U.S. presidential election approaches, American support for continued assistance to Ukraine by Washington is also shifting. Initially, a significant majority of 62 percent of Americans supported assistance to embattled Ukraine; now, the numbers have changed. A total of 51 percent believe America has done enough for Kyiv, versus 48 percent who think it should do more. Such are the findings of a public opinion poll commissioned by CNN in July.
The prolonged war, the fatigue of the topic, and especially the increasing importance of domestic politics due to the upcoming presidential elections all play a role. For these very reasons, regardless of the battlefield situation, the Kremlin is likely not interested in reaching an agreement to end the war in the coming months. Time plays in favor of the Russians.
In Poland, potential or actual changes in the mood of American society and politics usually trigger waves of concern that the U.S. might soon withdraw and we might see scenes at the Rzeszow airport reminiscent of those in Afghanistan in 2021.
The fear of being abandoned remains a very potent stimulus in the Polish consciousness.
However, much has changed since February 2022 and the possibility of an American withdrawal is not on the table. The future position of the American empire, especially in the context of competition with China, is at stake. Yet, given the shifting moods in the U.S. and the upcoming elections, there will be increased pressure to find ways to halt the war, possibly by freezing it. There will also be a growing consensus, among both Democrats and Republicans, that Europe needs to gradually assume responsibility for defending its eastern frontiers.
France is too far away and Germany will always drag its heels. Considering the prevailing sentiments in major European countries, this presents Poland with significant opportunities to strengthen its position in Europe, opportunities it should not waste.