In an interview with The Economist this week, Ukrainian President Volodomir Zelensky issued a veiled threat to Western nations to not abandon their support for the war in Ukraine. The Ukrainian strongman seemed to imply that Ukrainian refugees across Europe would destabilize the countries in which they have taken refuge.
The Economist article quotes Zelensky as saying, “Curtailing aid to Ukraine would only prolong the war, Mr Zelensky argues. And it would create risks for the West in its own backyard. There is no way of predicting how the millions of Ukrainian refugees in European countries would react to their country being abandoned. Ukrainians have generally “behaved well” and are “very grateful” to those who sheltered them. They will not forget that generosity. But it would not be a “good story” for Europe if it were to “drive these people into a corner.”
Zelensky’s comments have provoked outrage in both Europe and the United States. Former Arizona gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake said on X (formerly Twitter): “Is Zelensky suggesting that Ukrainian refugees in other countries could be activated LIKE terrorist splinter cells if we stop funding Joe Biden’s proxy war with Russia? This reads like a threat. How else are we supposed to interpret this?” Will this lead countries across Europe to reconsider welcoming Ukrainian refugees?