They are demonstrating for a replacement and the return of their men after twenty-two months of a grueling war on a front frozen literally and figuratively. These protests by women in Ukrainian cities are one sign among others of the deep weariness and pessimism that is spreading, while Russia, superior in numbers and weapons, pours deluges of fire on Ukraine.
The sacred union around the young president in a khaki t-shirt is no more. Volodymyr Zelensky’s popularity, both nationally and internationally, is crumbling. Even if this heroic people sacrificed themselves for their independence, doubts appeared, for lack of a prospect of an end to the war.
On the national level, the open disagreement between the president and the very popular chief of staff, General Valeri Zalouzhny, is worrying. Zalujny is pressing for a replacement of exhausted troops and a new mobilization, including those under 25 (compared to 27 today), while young people are fleeing abroad. The president is accused of having his communication channels in the army corps. Unity had made the nation strong. If it splits at its top, it will only benefit Moscow.
On the international level, military aid of 56.5 billion euros remains blocked by Congress. Joe Biden remains kyiv’s best ally, but what would happen if Donald Trump returned to power and, with him, his isolationist policies? In Brussels, the opening of negotiations on Ukraine’s accession is far from compensating for the blocking of aid of 50 billion euros by the pro-Russian Hungarian Viktor Orban.
Volodymyr Zelensky’s multiple video appearances annoy some people. He should instead negotiate, they say. And if the Ukrainian president goes as far as Argentina to seek aid, many countries in the South, with energy interests well understood, openly or discreetly support Vladimir Putin.
Opinions are growing weary, the pro-Putin are raising their heads, the Russian troll factories are doing their undermining work. And, above all, as Zelensky lamented, the even more strategic Gaza conflict has relegated Ukraine to second place.