Ukraine’s Darth Vader & The Pentagon’s Voodoo Economics

Robert Fico
Most Western outlets have labeled Slovak politician Robert Fico “pro-Russian,” and so his party’s victory on Saturday, of course, sounds very ominous. Photo: Vladimir Simicek via Getty Images
Julia Ioffe
October 3, 2023

Two big things happened for Ukraine outside of its borders over the weekend. The first happened here, in Washington, when the House of Representatives surprised everyone and passed a short-term funding measure that would allow the U.S. government to function until mid-November. The measure, however, notably did not include any aid for Ukraine. The Ukraine proposal had gone from $24 billion to $6 billion and then to zero. The second was the parliamentary elections in Slovakia, where a populist named Robert Fico led his party to victory, in part on promises not to send any more aid—“not a single bullet”—to Ukraine. 

Both developments, understandably, have sent jolts of panic through Ukraine’s allies both here and in Europe. Western media haven’t helped their jitters either. The narrative, especially when it comes to Slovakia’s elections, is that this is the first real crack in the West’s unity on Ukraine. And, with Poland’s elections on October 15 and Congress’s inability to predictably fund the U.S. government, let alone Ukraine, the dam seems like it’s starting to break. This, after all, has been Vladimir Putin’s plan since it became clear he couldn’t take Ukraine in one quick hit: wait out the West, which, unlike his autocratic regime, has a real range of opinions and where elections are real.