US media is reporting on how US candidates for public office are increasingly spreading Russian talking points on Ukraine, primarily but not only by Republicans. According to the Foreign Policy (FP) article:
October 13, 2022 When Tesla chief executive Musk tweeted his support Russia’s dismemberment of Ukrinane, he used some highly revealing language. Crimea should be Russian, he tweeted, because of “Krushchev’s mistake’—a reference to Soviet leader Nikita Krushchev’s redrawing of internal Soviet borders. That particular wording has never been part of the U.S. debate about Ukraine, but it is the standard language used by the Kremlin for its claims on Ukrainian land. It’s not the only talking point Musk has embraced that will be familiar to anyone following Kremlin propaganda. Musk’s tweets are a prominent example of a worrisome trend: Kremlin talking points are creeping back into the U.S. debate. Few issues have united Democrats and Republicans again after years of intense polarization as much as supporting Ukraine in its fight against Russia’s brutal and unprovoked invasion. In the U.S. Congress, there has been strong bipartisan backing for weapons deliveries and other aid to Kyiv, as well as for fortifying NATO’s eastern frontier. Until recently, voices supporting the Kremlin were few and far between, most prominently, Fox News host Tucker Carlson and former President Donald Trump. Carlson openly declared he was on Russia’s side, and Trump praised Russian President Vladimir Putin for his cleverness for invading Ukraine. As noisy as they were, these voices were overpowered by a consensus about the war and how the United States should respond. Now, there are cracks in this consensus, with Musk the latest example of Russian propaganda slipping back into the public conversation. With campaigning for next month’s U.S. midterm elections heating up, Putin’s talking points are increasingly being spread by candidates running for office, as we document with the Midterms Monitor, a joint social-media tracking project of the Alliance for Securing Democracy at the German Marshal Fund and the Brennan Center for Justice. The monitor has captured more than 2,300 tweets by U.S. candidates for Congress or state office dealing with Ukraine since Aug. 1. Many of these posts are critical of Russia and back the US policy on the war. But a noisy minority- most, but not all, Republicans- are also parroting the most egregious Kremlin propaganda.
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Examples of Republican candidates provided by the FP report include:
- J.D. Vance, a Republican candidate for the US Senate in Ohio, is campaigning on an end to aid for Ukraine and just called for “negotiations” with Putin
- Mayra Flores, a Republican candidate for the House of Representatives from Texas, tweeted: “Congress just voted to send another $12,300,000,000 to Ukraine! … Why aren’t we putting America’s best interests first?”
- Allen Waters, a Republican House candidate from Rhode Island, shared, “#AmericaFirst not #Ukraine. Keep Rhode Island safe from nuclear conflict.”
- Donnie Palmer, a Republican House candidate from Massachusetts, praised Trump by saying: “did he get us into a war … did he blow up 2 pipelines, is he backing Nazis in Ukraine?”
- Eric Brewer, Republican House candidate from Ohio, attacked the US ambassador to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe,
- Michael Carpenter: “@USAmbOSCE Carpenter is omitting the context for Putin’s military operation … He’s ignoring Ukraine’s 8 years of war crimes & Russia’s 8 years of restraint. Putin acted late.”
- Derision for the Ukrainian government is being spread as well. “What classy people the government of Ukraine employs,” tweeted Irene Armendariz Jackson, a Republican House candidate from Texas, at a Ukrainian diplomat who used an expletive in response to Musk’s suggestion to surrender Crimea.
- Republican Congressman Paul Gosar’s statement that the United States “doesn’t owe Zelensky a damn thing.”
The FP report notes that American anti-Ukraine voices are also often rebroadcast on Russian state media for a Russian audience, which also serves the Kremlin’s propaganda operations. As also noted in the FP report, the anti-Ukraine/pro-Russian trend began with Fox News star Tucker Carlson. The Global Influence Operations Report (GIOR) reported today on the continuing amplification by Russian-controlled media of Carlon’s anti-Ukraine, pro-Kremlin rhetoric.
A GIOR report on the Global National Conservative Alliance (GNCA) detailed Carlson’s continued support for the Hungarian government and its Prime Minister Viktor Orban, Russia’s closest partner in the EU. That report also documented Carlson’s participation in National Conservative international conferences sponsored by the US-based Edmund Burke Foundation.