Thu. Apr 25th, 2024

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has faced a pivotal moment as he addresses journalists in an end-of-year press conference on Tuesday, grappling with military challenges on the front lines and wavering support from Western allies.

Zelensky’s recent tour of Western nations aimed to garner increased military and political backing for Ukraine, as Russia’s impending invasion approaches its two-year anniversary in February. However, efforts to secure approval for $60 billion in support from the U.S. Congress proved unsuccessful, and in Brussels, Hungarian leader Viktor Orban blocked around 50 billion euros in aid earmarked for Kyiv.

These diplomatic setbacks follow a disappointing counter-offensive launched by Kyiv in June, utilizing Western-supplied tanks and accumulated weapons. In contrast, Russian President Vladimir Putin, at his year-end press conference, reaffirmed his commitment to victory, underscoring unchanged military goals in Ukraine and vowing to continue the fight until the country is “de-militarised” and “de-Nazified,” setting the stage for elections in March.

As Zelensky faces questions from Ukrainian and foreign press, recent polls indicate a decline in public trust, dropping from 84 percent a year ago to 62 percent. Despite this, the public overwhelmingly supports the Ukrainian armed forces and their commander, Valery Zaluzhny.

Political divisions are on display as Kyiv residents rally in the city center, demanding increased funds to aid the military’s territorial reclamation. Despite battlefield setbacks and challenges in Western support, Zelensky highlights the Black Sea as a success story, citing Ukrainian drones forcing Russian warships to redeploy and the reopening of a maritime corridor for commercial cargo ships, defying Moscow’s threats.

The press conference occurs against a backdrop of both internal and external challenges, putting Zelensky’s leadership to the test amidst a complex geopolitical landscape.

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