A few months ago, a Ukrainian friend arrived in Poland. “You feel like there is a war going on here,” she said at the time, “everyone knows what is going on, and everyone is trying to do something about it. It’s the first time I’ve experienced that.” Unlike more than a million of her countrymen, though, she wasn’t fleeing across the Ukraine border from the East as Russian tanks and artillery pound the Eastern European nation into rubble – she was visiting from Berlin. Even though the conflict has become a dividing line in German politics, life there went on more or less the same despite the humanitarian crisis unfolding just a few hundred miles away.

If that was the case in March, it’s doubly so now. Despite falling into a cycle of condemning Russian aggression and expressing shock at the war crimes being committed on a daily basis, in the weeks that followed, Germany has been accused of not doing much more. Its promised deliveries of arms and armour have reportedly failed to materialise on any great scale, while its energy firms are paying Moscow for gas in rubles, which are then used to fund the war.

While Berlin, which has long maintained among the closest economic ties to Russia of any EU state, has always been torn between its obligations to Kyiv and its domestic priorities, there is concern other countries could soon follow suit.

After returning from a surprise visit to Ukraine on Friday, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned world leaders that they could not afford to succumb to “Ukraine fatigue” as the war drags into its fourth month. “It is very important to show that we are with them for the long haul and we are giving them that strategic resilience that they need,” he said. 

But despite that, his talks with President Volodymyr Zelensky were overshadowed by criticism back home that he is distracted from the domestic agenda. Having been due to speak to Conservative MPs and activists at a conference in Doncaster, one parliamentarian told the media that attendees were “furious” when he failed to materialise, amid two impending by-elections, dismal polling figures and a worsening cost of living crisis. The trip, critics said, was an exercise in political opportunism that wouldn’t resonate with voters struggling to pay their bills.

Given the war has sent energy prices skyrocketing, locked millions of tonnes of Ukrainian agricultural exports in the country’s blockaded Black Sea ports and sent shockwaves through world markets, the repercussions are now being felt from Africa to Antwerp.

At the same time, however, the root causes of people’s economic woes in the West, and the risk of famine and unrest in the developing world, are increasingly taking a back seat to coverage of their consequences. While Ukraine has been front page news for months, there is a growing sense that people are losing focus on the fighting, and what’s at stake. “I can chart interest in Ukraine month by month – and the ebbing and flowing of Ukraine Fatigue – by the number of my books sold,” tweeted Vladislav Davidzon, author of a post-Soviet history of Odesa.

Instead, the British media has become increasingly dominated by disputes over railway strikes and airport chaos, inflation, parties, beers and curries. Each of these undoubtedly matter a great deal to the public, especially as the summer holidays loom and many parents will be worried about childcare and food prices. But together they represent a distraction from the root cause of the economic collapse – Vladimir Putin’s war – and Ukraine’s fight for its freedom. 

The public at present support the massive effort to provide arms to Kyiv, but it is unlikely to be long before they start to count the cost. The new head of the British Army, General Sir Patrick Sanders, has called on the government to reverse years of defence cuts and ensure his forces are equipped “to protect the UK and be ready to fight and win wars on land.” However, investing billions in equipment and manpower is unlikely to be an easy political call given the growing clamour for help with household bills and a sluggish economy.

The growing discontent plays squarely into the Kremlin’s hands. Moscow has for months claimed that sanctions imposed over its invasion will be self-defeating for the West, telling the UK, EU and US that they should mind their own business, quite literally. The rising fuel costs and the targeting of Ukrainian agricultural exports fit within that strategy of trying to make a long war costly for everyone else as well.

The bet that problems at home will soften nations’ support for Kyiv hasn’t paid off, yet. Far-right French Presidential candidate Marine Le Pen made the economic fallout a wedge issue in her campaign, saying: “I do not want French people to suffer the consequences of sanctions.” She was defeated by incumbent Emmanuel Macron, but still drew two fifths of the vote. But the same economic concerns have already divided Western unity in the EU, for example, with Hungary blocking energy import embargoes and insisting its primary loyalty has to be to its own industries.

If many people in countries like the UK and Germany are beginning to worry more about their personal circumstances than the war, that trade-off has long been felt in poorer parts of the world. The conflict might have been all-consuming in Europe, at least until recently, but most of Africa, South America and Asia have been unmoved by Ukraine’s plight and the vast majority of nations have refused to impose sanctions on Russia.

Now, though, they are becoming a new battleground in the campaign. Earlier this month, the US State Department warned a number of countries, including Kenya and Senegal, not to buy cheap grain stolen by Russia from Ukraine. Rising food prices have already sparked fears of starvation on the African continent, and leaders are being told to choose between securing cut-price agricultural imports or risking being sanctioned themselves. For now, many are toeing the line, but it is unclear how long they can hold out before fatigue sets in or public pressure forces a change.

For the time being, politicians are contending with how to fight back against Russia’s war, while dealing with the crises unfolding at home as well. At their heart, though, the two are one and the same.