War in Ukraine on the front pages of major US newspapers: interview with Anna Brodsky-Krotkina

On November 8, elections will be held in the United States for the House of Representatives and the Senate, which make up the Congress (American Parliament). Now the Democratic and Republican parties are holding primaries, during which candidates for the November congressional elections from each state are determined.

What is the political balance of power between Democrats (Biden) and Republicans (Trump)? How the situation may affect further support for Ukraine. How Americans react to rising prices in the country and how they treat Putin and Russia. Find out an exclusive interview with the head of the Slavic program, professor at the University of Washington and Lee (USA) Anna Brodsky-Krotkina.

Today we’ll discuss relationships between US, NATO, elections and support of Ukraine. American society continue to support Ukraine in fight against Russian aggression. Will something change after parliamentary elections this autumn? And what will change in this relationship concerning UA support and for US?

Well, this is a very important question, both for the U.S. and for Ukraine. What’s interesting about this election is that people who are supported by Trump tend to be not only ultra-conservative in social issues, but they’re also ultra-conservative, as far as Ukraine is concerned. They’re isolationists in the case of Ohio. And we know that as far as the candidate for the Republican Party was winning, the person who won was someone whom Trump supported and that was JD Vance. He is, of course, a Republican, but he is an extreme version of Republicanism. One thing that is very dangerous is that he says that he doesn’t care what happens to Ukraine. This is how he formulates it. “I don’t care what happens to Ukraine”. He thinks that America should not be involved and he thinks that America should just mind its own business and be completely isolated from the world. It’s hard to say what motivates him. He seems unprincipled. He might be indeed adhering to a traditional stance of Republican isolationism. That’s a fairly traditional conception of how America should handle itself. On the other hand, he actually has financial interests. For example, according to the AP press, he invested $ 300,000 of his own money into the Platform Rambler. And that platform works to support Russian propaganda channel, Russia Today channel. So, it’s interestingly intertwined ideological issues. Interestingly enough, his Democratic opponent in the same state of Ohio, Tim Ryan is not only is a strong supporter of Ukraine, he was also considered by Russia to be a persona non grata. And Russia actually banned him from visiting Russia. Of course, he was quite ironic about it and he said he’s grateful to Putin for recognizing his good work in support of Ukraine. Well, let’s look at today’s election – in Wyoming Liz Cheney is fighting with Harriet Hageman. We don’t know who will win yet. Liz Cheney was one of few Republicans, namely 10 Republicans who voted to impeach Trump. Republican Party absolutely despises her and did everything to undermine her position in the party. Now, her opponent, Harriet Hageman, has not mentioned Ukraine once. And this is quite interesting. They are both fighting for a place in the Senate. Does she not know about Ukraine? Could it be possible that she never heard of the war in Ukraine? Absolutely not. We can easily assume that if Trump supports her, she is probably also not in favor of supporting of Ukraine. Trump is right now a private citizen, but he is very weighty in the party. Trump supports congressmen, who actually do not support Ukraine and are pro-Putin. We have another interesting case of a congressman, Thomas Massie from Kentucky. He wants to “undermine” NATO, just like Trump did. He thinks that the United States of America should withdraw from NATO and NATO, in general, should be dissolved. It was the wrong idea to keep NATO after the collapse of the Soviet Union. And now Trump. He still looks at Thomas Massie with a certain irony and he didn’t quite like him. After Massie began to express his Ukrainian pro-Putin positions, Trump changed his opinion. In other words, what will happen during this election? We don’t know. It looks like if Trump’s party wins, if there are more people in the Congress who were supported by Trump, the support for Ukraine might start winning. These are anti-democratic forces within the American government.

Read also: Russia is preparing to revenge on Ukraine for Crimea: an interview with Ukrainian Intelligence General Malomuzh

What can you say about presidential elections, speaking about may candidates, including changes for a relationship between US and Russia. And also speaking about such as in Donald Trump Presidency. Trump, by the way, called it a political persecution. What do you think about it?

Political future of Donald Trump is a bit iffy right now. And that’s good news because we know his love of Putin. Not once did he criticize Vladimir Putin for anything. And right before the war, right before Putin waged this dirty, unprovoked war against Ukraine, Trump called him a genius. So, the victory of Trump should that happen, would be definitely bad news. But what would happen right now, the person who seems to be quite prominent on the political horizon of the Republican Party is Ron DeSantis. And that’s the governor of Florida. Now, that’s also a very dubious situation. He does not criticize Putin much, but he’s financially involved with Russia. As it turns out, he invested $300 million of Florida pension funds in the Russian business. Of course, there were public out. People were pressuring him to withdraw, to divest from Russia, that didn’t make much effect. In addition, his own party, Republican Party in Florida, also received $50,000 from Russian money via Parnas, if you remember such character, Lev Parnas, who was involved with Giuliani and some dirty business.

One more thing I’d like to discuss. It’s transcending in European countries. How we destroyed Moscow plans and can Russian propaganda influence on this process?

Well, the Russian propaganda, of course, Russian has been fairly effective. But whom does it affect? It affects the poor, the disgruntled people, who have financial troubles. It’s like with the Trump and his propaganda, we can see who is affected mostly by Trump’s propaganda – people whose position in society is a little bit iffy, who is oftentimes working class, or whose factories and plants have moved abroad. Putin’s propaganda, like any propaganda, appeals to emotions. It usually appeals to the emotions of anger. It also appeals to people who are in search of the enemy. Just someone to blame. That’s how propaganda works. And that’s how it has been working in Russia. Ultimately, he started his presidency by whipping up hatred for Chechens. Then there was massive hatred for Georgians. Then there were gays. And finally, the hatred for Ukrainians was pushed. So, propaganda that deals with hatred. When people are not happy about something. And though he’s very good at pushing the buttons and they want to blame someone; his propaganda tends to find who to blame.

What are the next steps in relationship between Russia and Africa on the one hand and between US and Africa on the other hand?

Well, that’s actually a very good question, related to propaganda. What’s going on with Russia and propaganda? Russia puts 1% of the entire financial help that African countries receive. Only 1% of it comes from Russia. So, what does Russia offer that is so attractive to many African countries? First of all, it offers propaganda. It only propaganda that relates to the leaders. It offers a disinformation campaign. And, of course, they sell arms. It’s a very cheap way of addressing population in Africa, and that’s entirely elite oriented. Russia is not doing anything to promote the well-being of African people, of African population. But they are very good at reminding Africans, about their colonial past and mentioning American slavery, a kind of whipping up the old grievances. But the Russians, as far as the propaganda is concerned, are great historians, they want to keep the grievances alive in front of the people’s eyes. Meanwhile, they are not offering anything but ultimately underhanded deals and dubious military presence. They’re hiding behind Wagner Group, for example. So, Russia has interest, economic interest on this. And of course, it also wants to show its own population and the world that the Russia is not entirely isolated. Does the West try to counter it? Absolutely. Blinken, who just visited South Africa a week ago, Macron went there, Samantha Power was visited a couple of African countries, and they tried to offer a counternarrative, pointing to the African countries that Russia is a huge colonial power. And what it’s doing right now is basically it’s waging the last colonial war in Europe. Will African people listen to this? That’s a big question. The West also offers financial help. And of course, Russia will not be in any position to aid Africa in the near future because its economy is shrinking and it’s not very large to begin with. Of course, the economy will be shrinking. So, all they can offer is exactly propaganda, rhetoric, underhanded deals and the arms sales. We can only hope that the West will be persuasive enough.

By the way, 3 months ago, you said in our program that 85% Americans saw that Putin was a war criminal. What about the situation now?

It seems that the general sense has not disappeared. Almost every day, with few exceptions, Ukrainian war is on the front page of major newspapers. Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Washington Post. There is a move to pronounce Russia to be a terrorist state, to give Russia the designation of a terrorist state. Curiously enough, the resistance comes from Antony Blinken, who generally is pro-Europe, anti-Russia. But you can see he’s an institutionalist. He thinks – “I will have to negotiate with them. This will preclude me from directly negotiating. This will bring the last bridge”. In other words, if he’s reluctant, it’s not because he thinks that Russia is not a terrorist state and it’s not because of there is no pressure on him to do that. So, the general sense is that Russia is a terrorist state of Putin. And he’s a killer.

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Tell us, please, a little bit about the life in USA now, the situation with Putin’s price hike, as Biden said. Price hike with the situation when the loss of prices increased because of the war started in Ukraine.

This is exactly what Putin hopes that would destabilize the democratic government. And indeed, Trump and his party will come to dominate. Is it really destabilizing the Democratic government, the Democratic Party that is in charge right now? Absolutely, it works against them. Because people do not see the clear-cut connection between the war in Ukraine and the sacrifices that they have to make. That is true. Biden is doing everything to bring the prices down and to bring the price of oil down. And in fact, the price of oil is going down. So hopefully the inflation is still very high. Hopefully the price of oil will stabilize the situation. You have to realize, the price of oil is very important for Americans, because it’s a huge country with unfortunately very poor public transportation. So, people drive to work, the drive to do basic shopping. They drive to see a doctor. The price of oil is not only reflected in the price of everything else, but that’s something that people have to pay out of pocket every day just to get where they need to go. And that’s a very large segment of American population. Of course, people who live in places like New York or Washington or Boston, they don’t necessarily have to drive. But outside the big metropolises, people drive.

And one more question. The relationship – Ukraine, India and the USA. We know that Ukraine and India’s foreign minister discussed strengthening cooperation, safety and role of India on the way to stopping Russian aggression. What can you say about it?

The relationship between India and Russia is very interesting relationship. First of all, this is one super traditional thing. India traditionally had a minor love affair with Russia. Jawaharlal Nehru certainly had a soft spot for the Soviet government. And by the way, the American government of the time, like Truman, for example, believed Nehru was a communist. So, in a certain sense the relationship between India and Russia – the good kind of a love affair relationship- it’s somewhat traditional. India was a developing democracy for a while. But then what happened in 2014 is that Modi took over and India made a turn towards an anarchic autocratic type rule. As in Russia, Modi crushed free press. He is controlling the courts and is pushing the idea of traditional Hindu values, ultimately oppressing a Muslim minority. So, you can see a very clear parallel between what Russia is doing and what Putin is doing and what Modi is doing. They’re basically brothers in authoritarian faith. So, their relationship, of course, is realpolitik. You know, it’s good for India right now to buy oil by discount prices and then try to sell it to the United States, hiding its origin. It’s understandable. They have their own interest. And that’s on the economic level. But there is a level that ultimately is more important than the pocketbook, and that’s the ideological level. Putin and Modi are their brothers in arms. And again, India, even though being a developing democracy, never said anything against Russia. Not when the Soviet Union invaded and crushed the revolution of Hungary in 1956, not when it’s invaded Czechoslovakia in 1968, not when it started a horrible war in Afghanistan. India was almost silent. So, this is a kind of a traditional situation.