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An Economic Test of Wills in Ukraine

Western leaders have repeatedly reaffirmed their commitment to Ukraine, a stance that still attracts widespread public support. But, in terms of both money and weapons, the West is delivering far from enough aid to enable Ukraine to secure a decisive victory against Russia.

BRUSSELS/MILAN – A year after the Russian invasion, the Ukraine war has become one of attrition, with each side hoping to wear the other down first. The superior morale and leadership of the Ukrainians still affords them an important advantage. But in a war of attrition, the balance of resources is the decisive factor.

Ukraine’s economic potential is negligible. Having plummeted by over 30% in 2022, its GDP now amounts to just one-tenth that of Russia. And that gap is set to grow: the International Monetary Fund expects the Russian economy to grow a bit in 2023. On its own, Ukraine clearly would be unable to sustain a war of attrition for long.

But, of course, Ukraine is not on its own; it has the backing of the European Union, the United Kingdom, and the United States – economies with a combined GDP of nearly $45 trillion. Russia’s GDP, by contrast, amounts to just $1.6 trillion – roughly the same as Italy’s, and just over 3% that of the NATO alliance.