USA Republican ultras give Putin a great victory in Ukraine

The Republican far right has given Vladimir Putin the victory that he has not been able to achieve on the battlefield

USA Republican ultras give Putin a great victory in Ukraine

The Republican far right has given Vladimir Putin the victory that he has not been able to achieve on the battlefield. The budget that allows the Public Administration to continue operating for 45 more days, and which was approved on Saturday night, when there were two hours and 58 minutes left before it closed, does not include a dollar in military or humanitarian assistance to Kiev. The White House wanted a military and civil aid package of 24 billion dollars, which the Senate had reduced by 6,000 and has not yet been approved. The reason is the frontal opposition of the most ultra sector of the Republican Party in the House of Representatives, which openly sympathizes with Russia in the conflict. With that decision, the US only has approved resources to continue supporting kyiv for a few more weeks.

If Congress fails to approve more aid, the flow of weapons from Washington to kyiv will dry up. Although that is an unlikely option, it should not be ruled out. And, in any case, the message that the United States is sending to its allies, to Ukraine and to Russia, is evident: American leadership in the conflict is in question, and will be more so as the 2024 elections approach and the Public opinion's rejection of giving weapons continues to grow. Ultra congressman Matt Gaetz's decision to try to force the resignation of House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, in part because of his support for Kiev - and also in part out of outright personal animosity - may further delay support for Kiev.

Those who oppose aid are concentrated mainly in the House of Representatives, although they have some support in the Senate, especially Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, an ultra-liberal whose father, Ron Paul, works as a commentator on the Russian channel RT, formerly known as Russia Today. They are a minority group, but with enough power to intimidate a large part of that party's bench, and with a thesis that is summarized in one sentence - something very important in the world of 21st century politics - and that also seems terrorize the Democrats who control the White House and the Senate: "Whoever wants to give aid to Ukraine shows that they care more about that country than about the United States." The virulence of this attitude is such that in three days the Republican Party went from demanding in the House of Representatives a 10% cut in the budget in a series of items that represent around a third of US public spending to settling for these remain stable, as long as, of course, there is no aid for Ukraine.

Added to this are other more far-fetched arguments, such as Paul's fears last spring that aid to kyiv would lead to a wave of hyperinflation in the United States. Demonstrating how an amount equivalent to 0.2% of the country's GDP, or 0.7% of the federal State budget, can cause a rise in prices is something that could make Paul, who is an ophthalmologist by profession, worthy of the award. Nobel Prize in Economics. And finally, there is the argument that the United States, not Ukraine, is suffering an "invasion" of undocumented immigrants along its border with Mexico, and that this should be Washington's political priority.

The refusal to support Kiev is such in that group that on Friday night Gaetz indignantly tweeted that McCarthy had reached a secret agreement with the Democrats to, once the crisis was over, approve more military aid to Ukraine. This Sunday, Gaetz announced that he will file a motion to impeach McCarthy. It is very unlikely that the proposal will go ahead, among other things because the ultras are few and, furthermore, they do not have a candidate to replace McCarthy, who could count on the support of most of the Republicans and a considerable part of the democrats. But the move could further delay the delivery of aid to Ukraine.

However, there is still room. The fact that the law passed by Congress and signed into law by President Joe Biden on Saturday night does not contain aid to Ukraine does not mean that the flow of weapons to Kiev is over. The US Department of Defense still has about $3 billion ($2.83 billion) from the latest kyiv aid package, approved virtually unanimously by Congress in May. That means the flow of weapons will be able to continue for about two months, although some media outlets in the US insist that the figure is lower and there is only money for a few more weeks. In any case, the race against time to help Ukraine has begun.

October is going to be the scene of that time trial. But even if the aid is approved, the outlook for 2024 is not good at all. It's not just the drop in support for Ukraine in Congress. It is also true among public opinion. And, finally, the confusion of the Joe Biden Government itself, which is not clear about whether or not it is going to give Ukraine ATCMS missiles and, if that is the case, how many it will give and when, or whether it supports a negotiated solution to the conflict that would include forcing Ukraine to hand over to Russia the territories it has occupied by arms. Kevin McCarthy touched on that idea on Saturday, trying to justify the exclusion of weapons for Kiev, when he said that the Biden Administration has not presented any strategy about the objectives that the United States pursues with its support for Ukraine. In fact, the White House has repeated countless times that it should be the Ukrainians who decide the conditions for the cessation of hostilities. And Kiev has a peace plan - which was reiterated by the Ukrainian president himself, Volodymyr Zelensky, at the UN two weeks ago - that involves the immediate withdrawal of Russian troops to the borders of that country.

But it is also true that the US government is showing more and more signs of hesitation. Relations between Washington and kyiv have deteriorated significantly over the summer, and in the US there is a perception that Ukraine believes that democratic countries will continue to support it indefinitely and unlimitedly. General Mark Milley, who left his post as chief of the United States General Staff last week, has insisted that it will be very difficult for Ukraine to recover the 20% of its national territory that has been taken from it by Russia. A chief of the General Staff does not make these statements without the prior authorization of the Secretary of Defense, who in turn does not allow them without the approval of the White House.

That strategy of taking two steps forward and one step back is something that pro-Putin Republicans are taking advantage of. And that is forcing the defenders of aid to Ukraine to engage in contortionism to carry out the delivery of weapons. McCarthy, always a master in the art of tightrope walking over not one, but two pits - one with crocodiles from his own party, the other with sharks from his Democratic rivals - returned to influence the immigration issue yesterday Sunday on television, and linked it to Ukraine. "The priority for me is the United States and its borders," he said, seconds before clarifying that "I support Ukraine having the weapons it needs." The idea of ​​McCarthy, who is fighting for his survival as speaker of the House, is to link the two things. It is a complicated proposition, because the Democratic left wing flatly rejects toughening immigration policy and also agrees with the Republican extreme right in stopping supporting Ukraine, to the point of having made a proposal in this regard (which had to be withdrawn quickly) that could have been written in the Kremlin. In fact, Democratic Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, one of the most visible faces of that sector of the party, has announced that she is going to vote in favor of Gaetz's proposal to remove McCarthy. The extremes touch. And Ukraine has the loser.

The year 2024, thus, looks complicated for aid to Ukraine. Supporting that country seems like a proposition destined to lose the elections. Fifty-five percent of Americans say Congress should not give more help to that country to defend itself from the Russian invasion, and 61% say they have already done enough for kyiv. It is a collapse of the support that policy had in the days after the invasion, and the White House, in the purest tradition of the Democratic Party, seems paralyzed at the idea of ​​​​having to defend a firm position on foreign policy. Joe Biden has entrusted his re-election to the economy, and he does not want to change that roadmap.

On the Republican side, the situation is more extreme. Donald Trump never tires of saying that if he wins the White House, he will reach a peace agreement in 24 hours, but, unfortunately, he is not going to try to do that until he wins - if he wins - which means at least 15 more months of Butcher shop. Trump has also not explained what his magic wand consists of to end the conflict - again, you have to vote for him first to know the answer - but given that he described Putin's annexation of the Donbas as "great", and that he professes an evident admiration for the Russian dictator, it does not seem that his peace plan is going to involve the restitution of the borders prior to the first Russian invasion of Ukraine, in 2014, nor the second, in 2022. 63% of Republicans support that the United States stop giving aid to Kiev, according to the aforementioned survey, which clearly indicates the preferences of that party.

The result is that the United States, which in 1994 solemnly promised to defend Ukraine in exchange for that country giving up its atomic weapons and handing them over to Russia, is reconsidering in 2024 whether to do the same with Kiev as it did with Kabul in 2021, when the capital of Afghanistan fell into the hands of the Taliban: leave and wish your allies good luck. The message seems to be: winning the elections is worth giving Ukraine to Putin.