Why Is US Republican Party Becoming More Pro-Russian, and What Should Ukraine Do?

Friday, 22 September 2023

Recent events give reason to assume that the Republican Party in the United States is becoming pro-Russian.

However, the truth does not like such simplifications and generalisations. The Republican Party is not monolithic.

The internal divisions and groupings within the party are diverse and have a defining influence on its future electoral potential.

How did the Republican Party, traditionally known for its tough stance on Russia, suddenly call for reducing or cancelling support for Ukraine?

Olexandr Kraev, an expert at the Ukrainian Prism Foreign Policy Council, and Oleh Pavliuk, a journalist of European Pravda, were trying to answer this questio in their article Anti-Ukraine Turn: Why US Republicans Playing More into Russia's Hands.

Currently, several ideologically distinct groups can be identified within the Republican Party. Let's start with the most pro-Ukrainian ones.

First, there are Reagan conservatives. The same politicians and voters who created the classic and familiar image of the "good old Republican Party."

Neoconservatives who differ from Reaganites by their greater focus on the so-called "culture wars" – the fight against the liberalisation of social, religious, and cultural life. They also play on a similar electoral field.

Moderate Republicans are also pro-Ukraine. They do not support conservatives due to their fixation on "culture wars" and their unwillingness to make productive compromises.

However, the most prominent in the media and the least pro-Ukraine are the Trumpists or MAGA Republicans (short for "Make America Great Again").

These are supporters and fervent followers of the former President Trump.

Why are the voices of Trumpists within the Republican Party growing louder? Why are more moderate party members joining their rhetoric?

The first factor is the pre-election period in the United States, when politicians are more sensitive to the electorate mood. There is a noticeable general trend of decreased support for Ukraine among Americans.

The second factor is the influence of the former US president on the Republican Party. Trump was able to ideologically push aside the "traditional" neoconservative Republicans during his four years in office. He could impose his own vision of the party's agenda.

The third factor is the disconnect between the expectations and the reality of Ukraine's counteroffensive in the eyes of American politicians.

If the funds and equipment provided did not yield results on the battlefield, why give more? It's easier (and cheaper) to make deals. These arguments are very covinient for isolationists, Trumpists, and those who represent them.

Another line is that Ukraine is diverting attention from a bigger problem for the United States – China and its aggressive plans regarding Taiwan.

The Republican Party's position on Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine will be significantly influenced by the person who represents them in the 2024 elections. However, even now, with Trump enjoying over 55% support, making a definitive forecast would be premature.

With Trump, everything is straightforward. He is predictable: a well-known fan of "simple solutions" who doesn't particularly want to antagonise Russia. In case of a guilty verdict, he may forget about the presidency.

A rejuvenated version of Trump, Vivek Ramaswamy, could become dangerous: his views on Ukraine align completely with Trump's but take them to a new level.

However, the leader of the Republicans is not the only challenge facing Ukraine. The House of Representatives has already begun an investigation into the impeachment of Joe Biden. Ukrainian affairs will certainly be a part of Biden's son's business activities in Ukraine and alleged corruption by his father.

In these conditions, what should Ukraine do? It needs to try to communicate with the American public, on whose opinion the Republican political establishment relies.

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