Senate Republicans hand Putin a propaganda victory

Vladimir Putin’s pet pundits are thrilled with Senate Republicans and their unanimous vote this week against advancing aid to Ukraine, as well as their efforts to extort concessions on immigration from President Joe Biden and Democrats. The delay, and possibly even the end, of U.S. support of Ukraine means Putin’s Russian allies see Russia’s military victory at hand.

Senate Republicans’ performative tantrum Wednesday, when they yelled at U.S. officials and stormed out of a classified briefing on Ukraine, “prompted jubilation in Moscow,” The Daily Beast’s Julia Davis, who closely monitors Russian media, reports. “During Wednesday’s broadcast of a state TV program 60 Minutes, Evgeny Popov said Ukraine was now in ‘agony’ and it was ‘difficult to imagine a bigger humiliation.’”

During his morning show Full Contact on Wednesday, top pro-Kremlin propagandist Vladimir Solovyov joyfully noted: “[Janet] Yellen screamed, “Don’t you dare!” [Joe] Biden screamed, “Don’t you dare!” but Republicans said, “Go to hell! We won’t give your khokhols [slur for “Ukrainians”] any money.” The segment was entitled, “No one needs Ukraine anymore—especially the United States.”

Appearing on his program, America analyst Dmitry Drobnitsky noted, “The downfall of Ukraine means the downfall of Biden! Two birds with one stone!”

The Senate voted later that day to attempt to advance Ukraine funding, and every Republican voted to block it from even getting a final vote. That got the Russian pundits even more excited.

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Dmitry Abzalov, director of the Kremlin-affiliated Center for Strategic Communications, crowed that “deal about additional aid has collapsed” over border issues. “It looks like [Chuck] Schumer is still trying to push it through, but it’s not happening, because Republicans are presenting harsh demands,” he continued. “Without a decision about the borders, even [Mitch] McConnell won’t vote for the deal. None of the Republicans will vote for the deal.”

Even Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. “It was said, Ukraine’s fate would be decided in December,” Abzalov said. “Here you go, it’s being decided.” McConnell has helped decide.

The negotiations are sputtering along, but thus far, Republicans have shown no indication of compromise. Republican Sen. James Lankford of Oklahoma, who is driving the effort on their side, gave Democrats another proposal, which one source told Politico is unacceptable.

“The Lankford counteroffer is extremely similar to the other Republican offers already in the discussion they’ve been having so far,” the source said. “Not a serious effort.” They added that “it still has all the extreme proposals like expulsion at the border with no asylum access. And fast track deportations in the interior.”

Republicans are trying to rope President Joe Biden into the talks, apparently believing he’ll be more amenable to giving in to them. It’s not working so far. White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Thursday that the congressional negotiations “should be happening” but said the GOP is “not moving forward in good faith.”

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