Putin has been embarrassed in Ukraine. So have his Western apologists

Ukrainian flags are seen on statues in a square in Balakliya, Kharkiv region, on Sept. 10 amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine. (Juan Barreto/AFP/Getty Images)
Ukrainian flags are seen on statues in a square in Balakliya, Kharkiv region, on Sept. 10 amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine. (Juan Barreto/AFP/Getty Images)

Russian forces are on the run in Ukraine. It’s a disaster in the making for Russian President Vladimir Putin — and for all his right-wing apologists in the GOP.

The Post reports, “A Ukrainian counteroffensive that has sent Russian forces into a hasty retreat could mark a turning point in the war and raise pressure on Moscow to call up additional forces if it hopes to prevent further Ukrainian advances, U.S. and Western officials said Monday”. NATO, also derided by right-wing nationalist forces in the GOP, has expanded and lavished support on Ukraine, showing a sense of moral purpose and commitment not seen since World War II.

“In mere days, Ukrainian military forces have retaken nearly all of the Kharkiv region that Russian forces occupied since the opening of the war”, The Post reports. “The rapidity of the pullback appears to have stunned Russian military troops and commanders, officials said”. Imagine the impact of those movements on those who invested so much energy shilling for Putin, deriding the West and running down democracy.

Authoritarian states have been on offense for a decade or more. Russia meddled in U.S. and European elections to tilt outcomes toward candidates who are friendly to Putin. Throughout that time, right-wing candidates and parties in the United States, France, Britain and elsewhere cultivated ties with the Kremlin. Eastern European countries such as Hungary and Poland, once on the road to democracy, fell into Russia-friendly authoritarianism.

In the United States, Donald Trump became the mouthpiece and apologist for Putin. The defeated former president has excused the murder of journalists in Russia (“I think our country does plenty of killing also”, Trump once said) and even extorted Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. And once Russia invaded Ukraine, Trump and his cronies in Congress and in the right-wing media extolled Putin’s brilliance and daring while voicing contempt for the West’s supposedly “woke” armed forces.

Russia’s invasion was an extension of its broader offensive against the West. As Freedom House explained in its 2022 report, “Putin’s war is the latest and gravest expression of his thuggish and malignant influence on neighboring states. When free societies have resisted his efforts to warp their media and corrupt their politicians, he has threatened or actually used military force, as in Georgia in 2008 and Ukraine in 2014. When authoritarian incumbents have teetered in the face of popular demands for change, he has backstopped their regimes and deepened their dependence on Moscow, as in Belarus or more recently in Kazakhstan”.

It’s hard to minimize the degree to which MAGA Republicans invested in Russia’s ascendancy. The New York Times reported in March, “As war has raged, the Kremlin’s talking points and some right-wing discourse in the United States — fueled by those on the far right — have coalesced”. The report continued, “By reinforcing and feeding each other’s messaging, some right-wing Americans have given credibility to Russia’s assertions and vice versa”. The result was a jointly constructed “alternate reality, recasting the Western bloc of allies as provokers, blunderers and liars, which has bolstered Mr. Putin”.

Now, the tide is turning. Russia is fleeing wide swaths of territory in Ukraine, and Putin’s invasion is widely viewed as one the worst military blunders in modern history.

The worldview of the pro-Putin right has been shattered. Putin’s embarrassment on the battlefield is theirs as well. Unsurprisingly, many in the MAGA camp tried to bury their past pro-Putin views, adopting instead severe criticism that President Biden had not done enough to save Ukraine. That historical revisionism cannot stand.

Democracy defenders and pro-NATO advocates would be foolish to allow Putin’s allies in the West to remain unscathed from their moral and political blunder. The MAGA right aligned itself with a corrupt, brutal, failing regime and derided democracies as incompetent and weak. It should not escape responsibility for bolstering Russia.

As Ukraine celebrates its recent victories, the West as a whole and the Democratic Party in the United States should not only claim success in having bolstered Ukraine militarily but also in destroying the right-wing myth of authoritarian superiority. Putin will go down as a misguided, brutal loser — a fitting figurehead for a right-wing domestic movement that cannot accept its own defeat and indulges in its own violent spasms.

No one should forget who was on Putin’s side. And no one should be confused as to the moral, economic and military triumph of the West despite the best efforts of Putin’s international flacks.

Jennifer Rubin writes reported opinion for The Washington Post. She is the author of “Resistance: How Women Saved Democracy from Donald Trump”.

Deja una respuesta

Tu dirección de correo electrónico no será publicada. Los campos obligatorios están marcados con *