Republicans in Congress and those considering the 2024 presidential candidacies condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and demand that President Joe Biden respond forcefully.
These calls come even as right-wing dissenting voices are making headlines sympathizing with Russian President Vladimir Putin or declaring that the war has nothing to do with US national security.
From Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley, a prominent conservative populist, to mainstream Republican Nikki Haley, potential White House candidate and former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, top GOP figures on Capitol Hill and those who have presidential ambitions unequivocally repudiating Russia’s large-scale military invasion of Ukraine and pressuring Biden to retaliate with all the tools in Washington’s diplomatic and economic sanctions arsenal.
Although many of these Republicans blame Biden’s “weak” foreign policy for emboldening Putin, they have reserved their harshest criticisms for the Russian strongman.
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“Russia’s brutal assault on Ukraine and invasion of its territory must be met with strong American determination,” Hawley said in a statement Thursday. “President Biden must act now to hit Vladimir Putin where it hurts, starting with Russia’s energy sector. The Biden administration should sanction the shutdown of Russian energy production and help arm Ukrainians to defend.”
“Russian barbarism knows no end. The West must learn that when tyrants make threats, they mean business,” Haley added, via published remarks. “At the UN, I saw Russian lies every day. Putin and his thugs don’t think like us. They don’t respect human life. They despise freedom. They only understand force.”
Beginning at least with President Ronald Reagan, the Republican Party was for decades the reliable home of military hawks who supported the projection of American power across the world to counter American adversaries such as the former Soviet Union. and, more recently, Putin’s Russia. This consensus crumbled in the second half of the 2010s as some conservatives questioned the value of American global leadership, especially when bolstered by overseas military deployments. Some conservatives went further, expressing their admiration for authoritarian Russia and its strong leader.
Lately, outspoken right-wing figures who do not see Russia as an American adversary, or Putin as a brutal leader, have come to the attention of political observers. They include well-known political writers, TV hosts, activists and a few 2022 election candidates.
FoxNews host Tucker Carlson suggested that Americans’ suspicion of Putin is misplaced. “Has Putin ever called me a racist? Did he threaten to fire me for disagreeing with him?” he asked on his prime-time show. Steve Bannon, former White House adviser to former President Donald Trump, said Politics that the “New Republican Party” just doesn’t care about Ukraine, period. And JD Vance, Republican candidate for the Ohio Senate, argued that “the Russian-Ukrainian border dispute has nothing to do with our national security.”
As for Trump, it’s complicated.
The former president used to praise Putin and praise Russia during his four years in the White House. Indeed, he did it again on the eve of Russia’s invasion of its Eastern European neighbor, eloquently eloquently eloquently eloquently evoking the so-called strategic genius of Putin’s Ukrainian scheme. Yet as president, Trump’s policies often pressed Putin, whether providing lethal aid to Ukraine to guard against Russian aggression or boosting US energy supplies to counter energy exports that are so important to Moscow’s bottom line.
In the flurry of statements Thursday from Republican politicians in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Biden has received heavy fire, particularly from those running in the midterm elections. The president’s foreign policy, they claim, has been beyond reproach. His mishandling of the US military withdrawal from Afghanistan, they say, all but invited Putin to move on Kiev because the botched exit made Washington look like a diminished power.
“Russia’s aggression against our allies in Ukraine is a direct result of Joe Biden’s weakness and lack of leadership on the world stage,” Arizona House candidate Walt Blackman said in a statement. “It is the predictable result of Biden’s surrender to the Taliban and his failure to stand up to our enemies. Joe Biden’s failed presidency has emboldened our enemies and made the world less secure, and if he had the slightest sense, he would resign in disgrace.”
But from Republicans in Congress with the power to legislate and those hoping to lead the party in the relatively near future, the focus was on Putin’s barbarity and called on Biden to use all means of American power to exception of a military intervention to inflict maximum pain on Putin. as punishment for invading Ukraine.
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“Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine is reckless and diabolical,” said House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California, who is on course to become president if Republicans win a majority in November. “The United States stands with the people of Ukraine and prays for their safety and resolve. Putin’s actions must be met with grave consequences.”
Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton, who is pondering a 2024 presidential bid, tweeted: “Vladimir Putin’s naked and unproven war of aggression must face the gravest consequences. I urge the President Biden to finally impose those consequences.”
Original location: Republicans call on Biden to use economic and diplomatic might to counter Putin
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