Mint Explainer: Is America’s support for the Ukraine war failing?

Mint Explainer: Is America’s support for the Ukraine war failing?

Updated: 29 days, 20 hours, 44 minutes, 3 seconds ago

On the surface, American support for Ukraine in its conflict with Russia remains strong. However, as the US heads to its midterm elections, the Republican Party seems divided on the issue. Former president Donald Trump and his acolytes have questioned what they call a “blank check" to Ukraine. Mint explains the emerging divisions in the US over the Ukraine war.

The Republican criticism of Ukraine aid package

Kevin McCarthy, the leader of the Republican Party in the House of Representatives, recently criticised the high amount of American aid to Ukraine. Washington passed a $40 billion aid package for Ukraine in May with money earmarked for disaster relief, economic reconstruction and military equipment. Since the war began in February, the US has committed nearly $18 billion dollars in defence and military equipment for Ukraine.

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McCarthy stated that there would be no “blank checks" to Ukraine if his party won the upcoming midterm elections. "I think people are going to be sitting in a recession, and they're not going to write a blank check to Ukraine," said McCarthy.

Republicans are set to win a majority in the US House of Representatives. That makes McCarthy the hot favourite to become the next Speaker of the House, a tremendously powerful position in US politics

Who backs McCarthy’s views?

While he later painted his statement as a call for increased oversight of spending, McCarthy’s views have a strong base of support within the Republican Party. In particular, the pro-Trump faction in the party has taken a sceptical view of the billions flowing in aid to Ukraine. Matt Gaetz, a prominent pro-Trump Congressman, and Senator Josh Frawley of Missouri have criticized American aid packages. Senator Frawley said that the aid to Ukraine was “not in America’s interests" and “allows Europe to freeload". Prominent conservative activist groups and media figures, like Tucker Carlson of Fox News, have also taken a dim view of massive aid packages to Ukraine.

What role has Donald Trump played?

The former president has provided much of the impetus for the isolationist wing of the Republicans. When the $40 billion aid package to Ukraine was passed in May, Trump was among its foremost critics. “The Democrats are sending another $40 billion to Ukraine, yet America's parents are struggling to even feed their children." he said in a statement. He has also enjoyed a close relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin. When Russian troops invaded Ukraine in February, Trump called the Putin's actions “smart" and “savvy". He also alleged that the invasion would not have taken place if he was in the White House and criticised Biden’s handling of the crisis.

Will the aid be cut?

A significant number of Republican politicians back aid to Ukraine. Senator Mitch McConnell, who leads the Republicans in the Senate, has consistently voted for more aid. However, more mainstream conservatives may be forced to listen to their Trumpist colleagues. If the Republicans take back the House and Senate, they may choose to back down on Ukraine rather than risk a split in the party. Trump, who is likely to become the party nominee for the presidency in 2024, will also play a role in reducing Republican support for the aid to Ukraine.

The conservative voter base in the US also seems to be growing tired of the war. In a poll taken by the Pew Research Centre in September, 32% of Republican voters said that the US was providing too much support to Ukraine. That is more than triple the number who said the same in an earlier poll held in March. While Ukraine’s battlefield successes have boosted support for its cause, a long winter and a military stalemate on the ground may cause American discontent to rise even as a domestic recession sets in.

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