Thursday, December 7, 2023

How the US midterm elections could impact Ukraine

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For Ukraine, the results of the US midterm elections are of particular importance. Trump’s nationalist-isolationist far-right supporters – including the radical, pro-Russian conspiracy theorist, Marjorie Taylor Greene, and her frequent mantra of “Not a penny more to Ukraine!” has unnerved many Ukrainians as the prospect of a Republican-led Congress suddenly cutting or ending the United States’ vital military and economic aid, while Russia’s brutal invasion of Ukraine continues, is looks quite disturbing and concerning for those of us who have to live with the war day in and day out.

To put it mildly, the statements by Trump’s supporters are increasingly worrisome, particularly when his so-called MAGA (Make America Great Again) supporters vow to follow Trump’s main goal of turning the US into a protectionist and isolationist state that cares nothing for those nations whose democratic ambitions closely match the United States’ founding principles.

Shockingly, Trump supporters have doubled down on their public admiration for Vladimir Putin’s dictatorship. Since the start of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, numerous Trump-aligned lawmakers, including Marjorie Taylor Greene and Trump’s son, Don Jr, have subscribed to and spread the outrageous conspiracy theory that Kyiv is at fault for the war, that the invasion, itself, is a staged hoax and American aid to Ukraine is not meant for the Ukrainian Armed Forces to defend their country, but is, in fact, part of a giant plot to launder money for the Biden family and to hinder Trump’s chances of successfully running again in 2024.

Though the midterms have passed without a huge wave of Trump supporters being elected to office – which is a net positive for aspiring democratic nations like Ukraine – the number of Republican supporters who will still pay fealty to Trump’s undisciplined isolationist policies and attempts to confront (hopefully, with a more coherent plan on how to do so) China will likely continue.

Undoubtedly, Trumpist fanatics like Taylor Greene and her religious extremist ally Lauren Boebert, along with their media darling Leftist counterparts – Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a self-declared Socialist; and Ilhan Omar, a rabid anti-Israeli member of the House of Representatives –  will do their utmost to act as Trump’s blowhorn when it comes to peddling Russian propaganda when speaking to core supporters and members of the press.

Trump himself has continued to sell the line that Putin’s Russia deserves to be treated like a ‘Great Power’ due to its status as the world’s largest nuclear-armed country. His statements only reinforce his past public declarations of admiration for Putin and his declaration only days after Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine that Putin “was a genius”.

Once the new Congress sits for its first session in January, Ukrainians will be watching closely to see if the Trumpists and their Leftist kindred spirits are successful in blocking aid to Ukraine. Most Ukrainians understand that because of this threat, the Biden administration is working hard to push through several large aid packages while the Democrats still control both the House of Representatives and the Senate.

One factor that could act as a firewall for Ukraine against those American lawmakers who oppose further aid to the country is President Joe Biden’s lend-lease bill, which was passed in May. This law will make the MAGA crowd’s hope of hindering military and humanitarian aid to Ukraine difficult, at best.

Still out of Ukrainians’ hands is the simple fact that the American economy is still hampered by rising inflation and increased gas prices – both of which are key issues for average citizens worldwide. If these continue to rise at the same pace as in the last six months, the American public may become less interested in helping Ukraine. This truth is not lost on most Ukrainians, despite their hope that their Western allies will continue to support them for the duration of the war.

In the immediate future, it’s critical for Ukraine to continue to have success on the battlefield. Chief among these will be the liberation of Kherson, the only regional administrative center that has been occupied by the Russians. If the Ukrainian Armed Forces are successful in driving out the Russians before January, it will continue to keep the war at the forefront of American foreign policy, while making it easier for the next Congress to continue to assist Ukraine where it’s needed.

Ukrainians understand full well that only we can win this war. The country does not need foreign soldiers or outside intervention to defeat Putin. But to win this war, we need the help of the United States and the rest of our Western allies. Military and financial aid, the type which has been the deciding factor in defeating the Russian military, is vital to Ukraine’s future as a free, democratic and independent state.

The Ukrainian people have no interest in getting themselves involved in the internal dynamics of American politics or giving any credence to the wild tales that right-wing Trumpist conspiracy theorists spread or, for that matter, finding it acceptable when Leftist lawmakers urge us to surrender and negotiate with Russia.

What does matter to Ukrainians is that support for our cause remains strong amongst American lawmakers and, most importantly, the American public. Regardless of the final makeup of the next US Congress, bipartisan support for Ukraine’s ability to rid itself, once and for all, of Russian imperialism must not waver.

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Head of Center for New World Order and Global Development Studies.


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