Support for Ukraine Weakening Among Republicans?

Robert McConnell
July 26, 2022

July 26, 2022

More and more we are hearing of weakening support for Ukraine among some political figures. In addition, we are seeing some very troubling Congressional votes related to Ukraine and American national security interests.

Most reasons given publicly for the weakening of support – or outright opposition – cannot withstand even minimal challenge. However, it would appear there may not be enough people presenting those challenges – in Washington or across the nation in this election year.

In following a number of congressional campaigns this year, I cannot help but recall President George H.W. Bush’s re-election campaign in 1992. A comparison of the votes President Bush received in 1988 from precincts dominated by central and eastern European-Americans and the votes he received four years later in 1992 was glaring. Over a year after Bush's “Chicken Kyiv” speech the impact that speech had on that electorate was clear – and negative.

Obviously, the moral obligations to be found in the Budapest Memorandum, and in response to the flagrant genocide and intentional war crimes of Putin’s scorched earth campaign should be more than enough to gain full support for Ukraine from every American and every officeholder, even before focusing on our very own national security interests involved.  But when you add raw political considerations, you must wonder how disconnected some in politics are to the realities of this war.

Below I set out an article on the general subject from today’s THE HILL. And below the article, just for your information, I list the names of those who voted against the Ukrainian aid legislation and the resolution supporting the NATO aspirations of Sweden and Finland.

GOP civil war on Ukraine builds between MAGA, Reagan Republicans

BY LAURA KELLY - 07/26/22 5:20 AM ET

This is not the photo THE HILL had with its article - theirs was a video - I used one I had here instead

A GOP civil war is building over U.S. policy toward Russia and Ukraine, pitting Reagan Republicans against more isolationist “MAGA” Republicans who take their political cues from former President Trump.

The Reagan Republicans have been winning the battle, but the continued fight could shape future U.S. policy if the GOP takes the House or Senate in this fall’s midterms.  

It may also shape the contest to be the next GOP presidential nominee, with Trump himself a possible candidate.  

GOP lawmakers who want to continue U.S. support for Ukraine are sending out warning signals, calling for the U.S. to keep up its backing for Kyiv regardless of which party holds the congressional majorities.  

“If freedom is under assault by dictatorship and we don’t back up freedom, then what message does that send?” Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.), who sits on the House Intelligence and House Foreign Affairs committees and who worked in Ukraine as an FBI agent, told The Hill in an interview.

Most GOP lawmakers have backed military aide to Ukraine, but Fitzpatrick said he senses support waning.

Worries the U.S. could become fatigued with the fighting in Ukraine, or distracted by domestic problems, have never been far from the minds of policymakers on both sides of the Atlantic. High inflation and the prospect of a recession is another danger.  

“The support early on was very strong and very bipartisan. Is some of that support waning? Yes,” Fitzpatrick said. “Part of it is natural just because it’s not in the headlines. … We can’t allow domestic politics to overshadow the fact that there’s genocide going on in Ukraine right now.” [That certainly is true but the far more fundamental fact that seems to be missed by some is that Putin’s war is directed at much more than Ukraine. Supporting Ukraine so that it can beat Russia and stop Putin is in our – American – national security interests. If Putin is not stopped/defeated he will continue. Anyone following his statements, and the declarations of his minions should understand clearly Putin's designs stretch far beyond Ukraine. If Ukraine is defeated the United States will be spending far more money, committing far more resources and will be putting American lives on the line as we are obligated to engage directly once Putin crosses NATO borders – and there is no question he will. Doing anything less than providing Ukraine everything it needs to win is against American national security interests. RAM]

Sen. James Risch (R-Idaho), the ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, invoked Reagan’s name in calling on lawmakers to not waver in their support.  

“I would say to those that criticize, do you really want to do this? Ronald Reagan would be deeply disappointed,” he said. “He’d hang his head in shame if he knew that we walked away from Ukrainians when we could help them and we have the ability to help them.” [True, but the former President would be taken aback by those who do not see American’s own national security interests being defended by Ukraine in Ukraine right now. The people of Ukraine are certainly fighting for their own freedom and sovereignty, but they also are fighting on behalf of vital American and western interests. It is beyond shortsighted to ignore our critical interest in Ukraine winning this war. RAM]  

GOP lawmakers who oppose support for Ukraine largely say they do not want to send money abroad when it can be used in the U.S. to fortify the southern border and invest in domestic energy production, among other issues.  [One can accept fiscal concerns but in this instance they come as shallow excuses. First, they ignore the national security reality mentioned above and what will come if Ukraine losses. And second, as one example, where is their adamant public fight to deal with the billions-upon-billions in annual Medicare fraud? Picking fiscal concern here - where national security is at risk - while doing little to nothing where billions more are being taking by fraud rings shallow indeed.  RAM]

In May, 57 House Republicans voted against a $40 billion aid package to Ukraine. The “no” votes included some of Trump’s most loyal allies, including Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (Ga.) and Matt Gaetz (Fla.). [And just how much of that $40 billion has and will actually go to Ukraine and her defense? It certainly is not $40 billion. RAM]

In a tweet, Gaetz committed to ending U.S. support for Ukraine if Republicans take control of the House after November. [A frightening, ill-advised and uninformed view. RAM]

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has issued a clarion call for the U.S. and democratic allies to help end Russia’s war by December, to stop the bloodshed but also anticipating waning global support.  

“I think bipartisan support for Ukraine is still very strong in Congress, but it’s definitely something to watch,” Melinda Haring, deputy director of the Atlantic Council’s Eurasia Center, said of the split among Republicans. “The sentiment definitely is growing.”

Sen. Josh Hawley (Mo.), a Trump ally who voted against certifying President Biden’s election victory, is one of 11 Senate Republicans who voted against the $40 billion aid package for Ukraine in May.

He told The Hill that his vote against the aid “clearly” showed he was in the minority “in the caucus,” but added, “In the party, no.”  [Surely, he is wrong and if he is not, he needs to grasp the security realities at issue and start educating his party. RAM]

While a July Morning Consult poll showed large majorities in both parties are concerned about Russia’s war in Ukraine, it also found that the number of Republicans saying “not enough” is being done to halt Russia’s war in Ukraine had dropped by half since the first month of the Kremlin’s invasion, from 40 percent to 20 percent. And while 37 percent of GOP voters said “the right amount” is being done for Ukraine, 30 percent said “too much” is being done. [Of course, it would help if the public heard the truth about the war and the difference between what is needed and what is being given in a timely way. The public needs to know wars are won with the right equipment, in the right place, at the right time and, while Washington’s support has improved it has never met that standard. Indeed, the case can be made Washington is only providing enough to keep Ukraine in the war but never enough to win. Question the U.S. strategy, if there is one. RAM]

The elections could also bring more Ukraine skeptics to Congress.

Trump-backed Ohio Senate candidate J.D. Vance is running to succeed pro-Ukraine Sen. Rob Portman (R), who is retiring. [And then, some candidates could learn the forgotten lesson of President George H.W. Bush’s re-election campaign – he "appeared" to abandon Ukraine over a year before the election and by then he had officially recognized independent Ukraine, yet he lost huge numbers of votes he had won four years before in central and eastern European-American precincts. RAM]

Vance has criticized Ukraine as a “corrupt nation run by oligarchs.” And while he has condemned Russia’s invasion, Vance has also called it “insulting and strategically stupid to devote billions of resources to Ukraine while ignoring the problems in our own country.” [Ah, the “corruption” canard – throw it in and ignore the facts and far greater realities. RAM]

Hawley, asked if he expects voters to support candidates who reflect his position on Ukraine, said, “If you look at people like J.D. Vance, for example, I think you would probably see a position close to the one that I hold.”

Hawley said he supports targeted military assistance but is against economic support that veers into “nation building,” saying it depletes funds needed to counter the threat from China.  

Some Democrats say they are confident that the majority of their Republican colleagues will continue to support U.S. assistance for Ukraine.  

“I actually think there’s been very strong bipartisan support for Ukraine. It was a minority of people who voted against the aid, and they sort of vote against everything. I don’t expect that to change,” Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), co-chair of the Senate NATO Observer Group and a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told The Hill.

Others are much more concerned.  

Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-Va.), a former CIA official who serves on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, called a potential GOP majority “deeply concerning” because “we see such an extremist element on the other side of the aisle that’s self-aligning with [Russian President Vladimir] Putin, as well as a whole host of others with extreme positions.”

Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-Texas), who traveled with Fitzpatrick to Ukraine in May, called it an “unholy alliance” between far-right isolationists and what he described as the anti-war left.

However, while progressive lawmakers are opposed to increased U.S. military spending in general, they have almost entirely backed legislation providing defensive aid to Ukraine — though with strict oversight.

Progressive Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) authored legislation requiring the Pentagon to report on efforts to prevent U.S.-provided weapons to Ukraine from “being sold on the black market or obtained by extremist groups.”

Crenshaw accused the “populist-right” of lying and seeking to “cherry-pick certain facts to degrade any kind of sympathy for Ukraine into increased sympathy for Russian interests.” But he said extremes on both the right and left pose a risk.

“You’re seeing that unholy alliance on this particular situation between the populist right and the far left and it’s very strange. These are people who never wanted us to win the Cold War, never would have won World War II — they’re loud, but they’re very few.”


When you review the lists below you have to be concerned.

Members of Congress who voted against the Ukraine support legislation (aka the $40 billion legislation)

Jodey Arrington (R-TX)

Brain Babin (R-TX)

Jim Banks (R-IN)

Andy Biggs (R-AZ)

Gus Bilirakis (R-FL)

Dan Bishop (R-NC)

Lauren Boebert (R-CO)

Ken Buck (R-CO)

Tim Burchett (R-TN)

Kat Cammack (R-FL)

Madison Cawthorn (R-NC)

Michael Cloud (R-TX)

Andrew Clyde (R-GA)

James Comer (R-KY)

Warren Davidson (R-OH)

Scott DesJarlais (R-TN)

Byron Donalds (R-FL)

Jeff Duncan (R-SC)

Ron Estes (R-KS)

Russ Fulcher (R-ID)

Matt Gaetz (R-FL)

Bob Gibbs (R-OH)

Louie Gohmert (R-TX)

Bob Good (R-VA)

Paul Gosar (R-AZ)

Garret Graves (R-LA)

Majorie Taylor Greene (R-GA)

Diana Harshbarger (R-TN)

Vicky Hartzler (R-MO)

Kevin Hern (R-OK)

Yvette Herrell (R-NM)

Jody Hice (R-GA)

Clay Higgins (R-LA)

Bill Huizenga (R-MI)

Ronny Jackson (R-TX)

Mike Johnson (R-LA)

Jim Jordan (R-OH)

Debbie Lesko (R-AZ)

Billy Long (R-MO)

Tracey Mann (R-KS)

Thomas Massie (R-KY)

Brian Mast (R-FL)

Mary Miller (R-IL)

Barry Moore (R-AL)

Troy Nehls (R-TX)

Ralph Norman (R-SC)

Scott Perry (R-PA)

John Rose (R-TN)

Matthew Rosendale (R-MT)

Chip Roy (R-TX)

Pete Sessions (R-TX)

Greg Steube (R-FL)

Tom Tiffany (R-WI)

Jeff Van Duyne (R-TX)

Bruce Westerman (R-AR)

Roger Williams (R-TX)

Members of Congress who voted against the resolution supporting Sweden and Finland joining of NATO

Dan Bishop (R-NC)

Lauren Boebert (R-CO)

Madison Cawthorn (R-NC)

Ben Cline (R-VA)

Michael Cloud (R-TX)

Warren Davidson (R-OH)

Matt Gaetz (R-FL)

Bob Good (R-VA)

Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA)

Morgan Griffin (R-VA)

Thomas Massie (R-KY)

Tom McClintock (R-CA)

Mary Miller (R-Il)

Ralph Norman (R-SC)

Matt Rosendale (R-MT)

Chip Roy (R-TX)

Jefferson Van Drew (R-NJ)

The introductory comments and the parenthetical comments within the presented article are Mr. McConnell’s and do not necessarily represent the views of the U.S.-Ukraine Foundation or the Friends of Ukraine Network.

Bob McConnell

Coordinator, External Relations

U.S.-Ukraine Foundation’s Friends of Ukraine Network

Robert A. McConnell is a co-founder of the U.S.-Ukraine Foundation and Coordinator of External Relations for the Foundation’s Friends of Ukraine Network. He is Principal of R.A. McConnell and Associates. Previously, he has served as head of the Government Advocacy Practice at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, Vice President – Washington for CBS, Inc, and Assistant Attorney General in the Department of Justice during the Reagan Administration.