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May 24, 2022
These Conservatives Are Defending Russia In Ukraine Crisis—And Trump Leads The Way

These Conservatives Are Defending Russia In Ukraine Crisis—And Trump Leads The Way

As President Joe Biden and Western leaders seek to defuse a potentially catastrophic war in eastern Europe, a handful of primarily right-wing American political figures are slamming the Western response and even praising Russian President Vladimir Putin’s move to send troops into Ukraine—former President Donald Trump being the most prominent among them.

Then-President Donald Trump chews the fat with Russia’s President Vladimir Putin in the central … [+] Vietnamese city of Danang on November 11, 2017.


Key Facts

Trump, in an interview Tuesday, called Putin’s decision to recognize two Russian-backed breakaway states in eastern Ukraine and order Russian troops in as so-called peacekeepers a “genius” move, going on to call Putin “a guy who’s very savvy.”

Earlier in the day, Trump released a statement bashing Biden’s “weak” response without suggesting what he thinks the penalties should be for Russia, breaking what had been a nearly month-long silence on the growing crisis in Ukraine.

Right-wing commentator Candace Owens blasted the U.S. response in a series of tweets Tuesday, saying Americans should read a transcript of Putin’s address to the UN Security Council “to know what’s *actually* going on,” and claiming that potential NATO membership for Ukraine serves as a threat to Russia and means “WE are at fault.”

On his show Tuesday night, Fox News host Tucker Carlson urged Americans to ask “Why do I hate Putin?” and has questioned why it would be “disloyal” for Americans to side with Russia if war breaks out.

Tulsi Gabbard, who’s moved toward the right since running for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2020, said on Sean Hannity’s Fox News show Monday that Putin’s reaction is a natural response to a potential NATO threat along Russia’s borders, telling Hannity: “Putin has made clear all along that their security, in his mind, is what’s at stake here.”

Right-wing firebrand Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) has also repeatedly criticized the U.S. response, including in a letter sent to Secretary of State Antony Blinken earlier this month criticizing U.S. support for granting Ukraine NATO membership.

Crucial Quote
“How smart is that?” Trump said on the right-wing radio program The Clay Travis and Buck Sexton Show about Putin ordering Russian troops across the border. “And he’s gonna go in and be a peacekeeper.”

Surprising Fact
Trump-era Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has also recently blasted the U.S. response and said he had “enormous respect” for the “talented statesman” Putin, but he acknowledged in a tweet Monday that Putin “is the aggressor.”

Key Background
U.S. officials have called Russia’s move into eastern Ukraine the “beginning of an invasion,” with about 190,000 Russian troops believed to be along Ukraine’s borders. The Ukrainian government on Wednesday announced a nationwide state of emergency as the country dealt with a fresh wave of cyberattacks, which the U.S. has warned could serve as a precursor for a full ground invasion. Putin’s decision to move troops into Ukraine’s breakaway regions prompted swift international condemnation, with the European Union and many Western countries, including the U.S., imposing sanctions. Biden announced the “first tranche” of sanctions Tuesday, which largely serve to block Russian access to Western financial institutions and include penalties against Russian elites. Biden also signed an executive order Monday prohibiting new U.S. investment in the two Ukrainian regions Russia’s recognized as independent, the Donetsk People’s Republic and Luhansk People’s Republic.

Rep. Tom Malinowski (D-N.J.) said that late last month his office was flooded with calls from Tucker Carlson viewers who he said were “upset that we’re not siding with Russia in its threats to invade Ukraine.”

Further Reading
‘This Is Genius’: Trump Praises Putin’s Move Into Ukraine–And Blasts Biden (Forbes)

Russia Sanctions Tracker: ‘First Barrage’ Of Penalties Span Japan To U.S. (Forbes)

Ukraine Will Impose State Of Emergency As It Urges Citizens To Leave Russia (Forbes)

Ukrainian Government And Banks Hit By New Wave Of Cyberattacks (Forbes)

Read More

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