Ukraine Update: Russian state TV is in raptures over Republican response to Zelenskyy visit
Ukraine Update: Russian state TV is in raptures over Republican response to Zelenskyy visit

UPDATE: Friday, Sep 22, 2023 · 7:02:49 PM +00:00

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The Black Sea fleet’s headquarters was pummeled today by multiple Storm Shadow/SCALP missiles. 

The strike was done in the day, to kill as many high-ranking Russian naval officers as possible. What I found interesting was the missile’s high angle of approach. I assumed these guys flew low to avoid air defenses, but this missile came in high, clearly untouched by Russian defenses. 

Ukraine has systematically degraded Russia’s air defense capabilities in Crimea over the past few weeks, and this is the fruit of those efforts. Russia’s occupation of the peninsula becomes more untenable by the day. 


You can read more great Ukraine coverage by both staff and community members here.


Putin Republicans were cool to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s visit to the Capitol, and it didn’t go unnoticed or uncelebrated on Russian state TV. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, and Sens. Ron Johnson and J.D. Vance all featured in a Russian report on Zelenskyy’s U.S. trip.

“Zelenskyy asked for a joint session,” McCarthy is shown saying. “We just didn’t have time. He’s already given a joint session.” McCarthy got top billing as speaker, but his fellow Republicans shown in the clip were more inflammatory. Vance, it noted, has called for the U.S. to stop sending weapons to Ukraine “and finally focus on Taiwan,” as if that’s not a thing the U.S. is already doing.

“We have Zelenskyy in town and he’s going around begging and pleading for the American people’s hard-earned tax dollars, and at the same time, we learn of the news that more money-laundering is happening in Ukraine,” Greene is shown saying. “Ukraine is such a long, drawn-out war. They won’t win it. It needs to end, I’m calling for it to end.” And of course, the way for the war to end, in Greene’s view and that of Russian state television, is for Ukraine to quit fighting for its independence, not for Russia to stop its invasion. McCarthy is reportedly considering Greene’s demand—a separate vote on Ukraine aid rather than including it in the broader Pentagon spending bill. While such a bill would have majority support in both chambers, there are many ways the minority could procedurally sabotage the aid.

In the clip, Johnson—who in 2018 spent July 4 in Moscow—similarly complains that the war is going on too long and that Putin isn’t giving up, so the U.S. should stop funding Ukraine. After this, the Russian anchor brightly summarized, “Good signals from Washington!” The report then shifted to a Russian diplomat at the United Nations headquarters in New York. The diplomat unleashed a rant about Zelenskyy showing just what these Republicans are supporting.

The U.S. and Western Europe, Maria Zakharova said,

… took a barely literate person, whom they placed at the helm of Ukraine. They placed him at the Olympus, a barely literate, uneducated person, with substance dependency and wild ambitions. Not knowing history, having no knowledge in this area, he is totally obsessed with his own ambitions. Based on what his American advisors threw at him, he thinks he is the center of the universe, and since he was once used against Russia, now he is the Lord of the Rings.

If a roach runs out to the middle of the kitchen, people see him and scream. This does not mean that the roach is almighty! No, it simply evokes a feeling of disgust! This is exactly the same story, you know? At some point, everyone yelled and made noise when they saw Zelenskyy in his dirty clothes, an outfit conjured up by U.S. intelligence services. They got excited, they invited him, but this moment is coming to an end!

Saying that Zelenskyy is “barely literate, uneducated” is insulting and belittling. (For the record, Zelenskyy has a law degree and a past career as a successful film and television producer and actor.) Saying that he has substance dependency undermines his judgment and competence. But comparing him to a roach scuttling across the kitchen floor is another thing entirely.

Dehumanizing rhetoric is a tactic with a long history, one that “has accompanied mass atrocities and conflict throughout history,” according to the organization Beyond Conflict. “Dehumanization removes the moral prohibition against violence, genocide, and systemic discrimination – thereby enabling them to occur.” The specific use of “roach” to describe Zelenskyy echoes how Rwanda’s Tutsi minority was labeled “cockroaches” in the run-up to the genocide there.

That dehumanizing language and description of Zelenskyy as a clueless, drug-addled puppet of the U.S. tells the story, as do Russian actions like the alleged kidnapping of Ukrainian children. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is not simply a war, as ugly and brutal as war is. And congressional Republicans are increasingly vocal about letting Putin have his genocidal way.

Meanwhile, the GOP civil war has certainly extended to the Ukrainian question. Six Republican senators signed Vance’s letter against Ukraine assistance—Sens. Rand Paul, Mike Braun, Tommy Tuberville (of course), Mike Lee, and Roger Marshall—as did 22 House Republicans, many of whom are members of the Freedom Caucus. Both represent small minorities of their parties. Weirdly, Greene and Sen. Josh Hawley didn’t sign on. On the other side, Republican Sens. Tom Cotton, Roger Wicker, Susan Collins, and Lindsey Graham signed a letter demanding more aid for Ukraine, specifically ATACMS long-range missiles. Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell met with Zelenskyy alongside Democratic Senate leader Chuck Schumer, in a bipartisan show of solidarity.

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And former Rep. Liz Cheney continues to infuriate the MAGA crowd by pointing out the obvious.

It’s been a long time since the mainstream Republican Party replaced Ronald Reagan with Donald Trump as their guiding deity. Ukraine has just put an exclamation point on it.


The game of “The U.S. will send ATACMS missiles, no they won’t, yes they will, no they won’t” continues. “President Joe Biden has told his Ukrainian counterpart, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, that the United States will provide a small number of long-range missiles to aid the war with Russia, three U.S. officials and a congressional official familiar with the discussions told NBC News on Friday,” reported NBC News.  

Also, The Guardian reports that the 31 M1 Abrams tanks that the U.S. pledged to Ukraine are scheduled to arrive in Ukraine “next week,” giving Ukraine a nice offensive boost as they work to exploit breaches in Russia’s defensive lines in the south. Crews have been training for months in Germany, so they should be ready to hit the ground running.

If history is any guide, this will hopefully be just the first delivery of many in the coming months and years.

Sign the petition to Congress: Support funding for Ukraine

Laura Clawson

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