Victoria Spartz, a member of the U.S. House of Representatives of Ukrainian origin, accused both the American and Ukrainian leadership last weekend.
She did this amid Russia's war against Ukraine when it depends a lot on U.S. aid. So it made her statements look even sharper.
"Anti-socialist" from Ukraine
Victoria Spartz is a Republican U.S. House of Representatives member from Indiana's 5th district. She has been in Congress since the fall of 2020.
She was born in Ukraine and left for the USA in 2000 at the age of 22.
For some time, Spartz owned real estate and farming businesses, but later she expressed interest in politics. She co-founded the "Tea Party" movement - right-wing conservatives critical of then U.S. President Barack Obama. Since 2017, she has been a member of the Indiana Senate.
In Congress, she joined the conservative right-wing of her party.
She was in charge of fighting socialism. Spartz repeatedly referred to her life experience under the socialistic system in Ukraine.
Spartz is a member of two committees - Education and Labor and Judiciary. Her work style in the House of Representatives is known for her complex personality. Her office staff does not get along well with her and often quit.
As for Spartz's political position, especially foreign policy, she adheres to the "Trump" wing of the Republican Party.
It means reducing U.S. military involvement worldwide, particularly in the Middle East.
War and Biden's invitation
Everything suddenly changed for Victoria Spartz on February 24, 2022, when Russia invaded Ukraine.
Victoria Spartz repeatedly comes to different regions of Ukraine and meets its leaders. She talks about "genocide" and "war crimes" committed by Russia and insists on the active support of Ukraine by the United States.
Here, at least for a certain time, she parts with the "Trump" wing.
In this sense, the Republican Party significantly disagrees on this matter. A big part of, according to our own terminology, "old republicans" returned to their traditional rigidity towards Russia. From this wing, we sometimes hear accusations against Biden that he does not back Ukraine enough.
The purely Trump wing is increasingly inclined to criticize the White House. Here we see attempts to "understand" Russia and talk about Biden's fault for starting the war.
Recently, we hear that American aid should be delivered efficiently with proper guardrails because Ukraine suffers from corruption. They are providing more and more modern, high-tech weaponry, but what if it falls into the wrong hands?
Until this moment, Spartz stood aside from the Trumpists regarding the war.
She supported various legislative initiatives aimed at helping Ukraine.
President Biden invited only four people to the Oval Office to sign the Ukraine Democracy Defense Lend-Lease Act of 2022 into law - Vice President Kamala Harris, Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md, co-sponsor of the bill), Elissa Slotkin (D-Mich, led the bill), as well as Spartz.
President Biden emphasized he invited Spartz to this ceremony as a person who has relatives in Ukraine, where the war is currently going on.
So, for all Spartz's deep gratitude for her support of some pro-Ukraine bills, there is no reason to say that she played any key role in their development or promotion. You can often hear about this in Ukrainian discussions on social media.
Back to Trump?
Victoria Spartz says she seems to have nothing against Zelensky personally but at the same time claims "he has to stop playing politics and theater."
Rather, one can speak of playing politics by Spartz herself, who is worried that she has parted with the Trumpists way too much, which is dangerous before the elections in November.
Trump's influence in the party remains considerable, especially in her home state of Indiana. Her opponent, Democrat Jeannine Lee Lake, is already waiting for Spartz. In the last elections, Spartz had only a 4% margin over her opponent. Although this election is expected to be generally successful for Republicans, it is better anyway not to risk it and be sure about Trump's blessing.
The accusations against the head of the Office of the President, Andrii Yermak, are questionable. Some of them, for example, SAP and NABU, as well as Oleh Tatarov, have long been voiced inside Ukraine and by its Western partners.
However, some accusations look very strange.
When Yermak is accused of surrendering Kherson, it is not clear why exactly he is guilty. What are the reasons to think so?
An even more unclear is the accusation that Yermak is guilty of failed negotiations with Russia. We cannot say for sure what negotiations she means: the Minsk talks or the negotiations after February 24.
If she means the most recent ones, we can confirm that Russia did not need any positive outcome. Why is Yermak to blame, then?
The key question here is where Victoria Spartz got this information.
She is not a member of the Intelligence Committee or any other relevant committee whose members might have access to such information.
Even if Spartz received some critical information, there are many ways to verify it - the FBI, the Ministry of Justice, or even the White House, which has already called some Ukrainian personalities Russian agents and imposed appropriate sanctions on them.
Spartz has chosen the worst way. It can only generate tension or misunderstanding in the countries' relations at the most crucial moment.
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The White House is set to announce a new security assistance package worth $400 million for Ukraine, even despite this minor disturbance. The Co-Chair of the Congressional Ukraine Caucus, Marcy Kaptur, and the Ukraine Congress Committee of America condemned Spartz's statements.
This story was not even interesting to the American media, except, not coincidentally, the Fox channel. That is why the White House did not respond to these statements. What exactly is there to respond to?
The extraordinary crisis in relations between the countries, which happened in 2019, should remain history. It should not be revived at such a fateful moment for Ukraine.
Written by Volodymyr Dubovyk,
director of the Center for International Studies,
Associate Professor of the Department of International Relations of Mechnikov Odesa National University