By Chan Kung*
Politicians in Europe are now waiting for Ukraine’s popularity to wane, so that they can get back to how things were in the past. Their current reluctant support for Ukraine is after all, a result of mass pressure. In the United States, Senator Ron Wyden, chairman of the Senate Committee on Finance, expressed concern that the bill to halt normal trade relations with Russia and Belarus has not been introduced. Although President Joe Biden has just visited new European countries, it remains to be seen how much role can the enthusiasm for Ukraine play in American politics and in the Democratic Party’s election.
For this reason, Senator Mike Crapo, the ranking Republican on the panel, said to CNN that, “I wish we had been able to move last week. But as you know, in the Senate, we have to get unanimous consent or spend a week or more on a filibuster battle. We’ve been working really hard to get it put together and we’ve been making some progress. And my hope is that we’ll be able to move soon”.
What he was saying was that President Biden has previously proposed suspending normal trade relations with Russia and banning imports of seafood, vodka and diamonds from Russia to increase economic pressure on it for invading Ukraine. The move however, requires approval from Congress. The House passed the bill on March 17, a day after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy made an emotional appeal in a virtual address to Congress. Now the legislation has moved to the Senate, which requires consent of all 100 senators. If there is any objection, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer might take time consuming procedural steps to overcome it, assuming he gets 60 votes. Kentucky Republican Senator Rand Paul objected to a quick vote, and demanded changes to the bill’s sanctions language, worrying that it would be too broad and could be potentially abused by the U.S. government. Nonetheless, Schumer refused to take more time to overcome this objection.
In political language, these twists and turns are “attempted negotiations to reach consensus”, but as for now nothing has been produced.
The problems in the U.S. may be a little more complicated than this, but in any case its enthusiasm in Ukraine is cooling down, and people are increasingly considering about real issues. With more considerations, there is less room for real actions. In the end, the support for Ukraine will become perfunctory, and any act taken would be constrained by the bureaucracy. The zeal for Ukraine cannot be underestimated, as it is related to a series of adjustments such as political bottom line, principles, and resources. How Ukraine responds to this is related to information warfare. Time factor is crucial in any form of passion; the longer the time, the lower the enthusiasm will become.
I think Ukraine now needs more new materials to sustain such enthusiasm. Unless Zelenskyy and his team can do this, the zeal of various countries for Ukraine will gradually dwindle. We will hear more impatient voices from the governments, the Congress, the refugees and from elsewhere. Such is the reality for information warfare. Ukraine can choose to wait for everything to pass, but of course the condition for this would be that it could still hold on. Russia too, may opt for this strategy to deal with information warfare.
The test for Zelenskyy and his PR team has come.
*Chan Kung, Founder of ANBOUND Think Tank (established in 1993), Mr. Chan Kung is one of China’s renowned experts in information analysis. Most of Chan Kung‘s outstanding academic research activities are in economic information analysis, particularly in the area of public policy.