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In Russia, some hope U.S. midterms will mean less Ukraine aid and more chaos

Pro-Kremlin forces in Russia are hoping that the Republicans win control of Congress, an outcome they believe could mean Democratic President Joe Biden faces a tougher and longer slog to get military aid packages for Ukraine approved.

November 9, 2022
By Andrew Osborn
9 November 2022

By Andrew Osborn

LONDON, Nov 8 (Reuters) – Pro-Kremlin forces in Russia
are hoping that the Republicans win control of Congress, an
outcome they believe could mean Democratic President Joe Biden
faces a tougher and longer slog to get military aid packages for
Ukraine approved.

But for now, few in Moscow expect the bipartisan U.S.
political consensus on Ukraine to crack, whatever the result of
Tuesday’s midterm elections. Nor do they expect Washington’s
support for Kyiv to dip significantly anytime soon.

Instead, with an eye on the next U.S. presidential election
in 2024 and the resilience of a geopolitical foe whose moment in
the historical sun they believe is coming to an end, pro-Kremlin
Russians hope the results will be disputed and that the American
political system will face fresh turmoil in coming years.

Their stance reflects President Vladimir Putin’s own belief
that Russia’s Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine, something he calls a
“special military operation”, is part of an historical
realignment away from a U.S.-dominated world to a multipolar one
where the views of countries like Russia and China must be
reckoned with.

“A Republican victory in the U.S. congressional elections
will not lead to a revolution in U.S. foreign policy and an end
to Washington’s support for Ukraine,” Alexei Pushkov, a hawkish
Russian senator and foreign policy specialist, wrote on the
Telegram messaging service.

“However, the Biden administration will find it more
difficult to push financial aid programmes to Kyiv through
Congress, and the position of U.S. critics of unlimited aid to
Ukraine will markedly strengthen.”

Pushkov, who had sanctions placed upon him by the European
Union in March for voting to support Moscow’s Ukraine policy,
said he thought there was a chance that Republicans might target
what he called Biden’s “wasteful” Ukraine spending in the run-up
to 2024 to try to hurt the Democrats’ ratings.

But a report drawn up by the Moscow-based Institute for
International Studies, which shares its research with the
Russian Foreign Ministry and other state bodies, concluded that
the mood of what it called the U.S. establishment and the
electorate meant the elections were unlikely to bring about
major changes to Washington’s Ukraine policy.

Ukraine has rarely come up as a key voter concern, with
those polled ahead of the election citing mostly worries on
domestic issues like inflation, crime and abortion.

‘CRITICAL JUNCTURE’

Russian ultra-nationalist circles were more certain that the
midterms – in which Republicans are forecast to win control of
the House of Representatives and possibly the Senate – would be
positive for their long-term interests.

Tsargrad, an online news portal and TV station funded by
sanctioned Russian ultra-nationalist tycoon Konstantin Malofeev,
predicted the elections would ultimately be America’s undoing.

“At a critical juncture in world history, this election
could have a major impact on the geopolitical environment, and
Ukraine in particular,” it wrote.

“But it could also be the detonator of domestic centrifugal
processes that could end the United States as we know it today,”
it said, talking of the theoretical possibility of civil war due
to political polarisation and distrust of election outcomes.

If such a dramatic scenario unfolded, Washington, Tsargrad
predicted, would not have the capacity to keep prosecuting its
Ukraine policy.

In a column for the state-run RIA news agency, columnist
Pyotr Akopov also forecast that Russia would be the real winner
of the U.S. midterms because the vote would deepen political
divisions ahead of the 2024 presidential election which he
predicted would be disputed.

“Even if it survives as a single state, the United States
will change dramatically and its global position will weaken
under any circumstances,” Akopov opined.

“Confrontation with China will require the mobilisation of
all of the country’s global resources – and attention to Europe
will inevitably weaken,” he said. “Without a strong and united
(United) States the West will not be able to maintain control
over western Russian lands for long.”

(Editing by Rosalba O’Brien)

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