Tag: putin
Ron DeSantis

Suddenly DeSantis Realizes That Ukraine Is Vital And Putin 'Is A War Criminal'

It's been over a week since Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis reshuffled his presidential fortunes by providing a flimsy, pro-Russia statement about Ukraine to Fox News Putin lover Tucker Carlson.

DeSantis—who talks almost exclusively to right-wing Rupert Murdoch properties—probably didn't realize just how explosive his dismissive characterization of the Ukraine-Russian war as a "territorial dispute" that wasn't a "vital" U.S. interest would be. But he clearly gets it now.

Thus, Ukraine, take two.

In a recorded interview with Piers Morgan that aired Thursday, DeSantis recast his views on Russia's unprovoked invasion of Ukraine as far more pro-Ukrainian and critical of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

His evolution was likely helped by the fact that last week the International Criminal Court accused Putin of committing war crimes and issued an arrest warrant for him.

Asked if Putin should be held accountable for war crimes committed in Ukraine, DeSantis responded, "I think he is a war criminal ... I do think that that he should be held accountable."

DeSantis further called Putin "hostile to the United States" and characterized the ongoing conflict as "a loss for them."

DeSantis said his comments about the war being a mere "territorial dispute" had been "mischaracterized."

“Obviously, Russia invaded," he acknowledged. “That was wrong. They invaded Crimea and took that in 2014 — that was wrong.”

DeSantis said he had been referring to "where the fighting is going on now, which is that eastern border region, Donbas, and then Crimea," adding that a lot of ethnic Russians live there.

"That’s what I was referring to, and so it wasn’t that I thought Russia had a right to that, and so if I should have made that more clear, I could have done it,” DeSantis explained.

Given that he granted a second interview on the matter to clean up his initial statement—yeah, DeSantis should have made that more clear.

“I think the larger point is, OK, Russia is not showing the ability to take over Ukraine, to topple the government or certainly to threaten NATO," DeSantis continued. "That’s a good thing. I just don’t think that’s a sufficient interest for us to escalate more involvement. I would not want to see American troops involved there."

Fox's Carlson appeared to be a little taken aback by DeSantis’ change in tone in the interview.

The New York Times noted that just hours after DeSantis' foreign policy makeover had been made public, Carlson blasted people who cave to the news media, repeating "whatever childish slogan they’ve come up with this week."

“Vladimir Putin is a war criminal,” Carlson lampooned mockingly.

Gosh, hopefully DeSantis won't be forced to branch out beyond the Murdoch properties going forward.

DeSantis clearly made a strategic misstep by chasing Trump's pro-Putin stance on Ukraine and basically every other geopolitical concern under the sun.

Sure, roughly 50 percent of Republican voters believe the U.S. is doing "too much" to aid Ukraine. But if DeSantis wants to be viewed as a smarter, saner alternative to Trump, then he can't mimic Trump's every move—especially one that weakens America on the world stage.

DeSantis rolling over for Putin sent shockwaves through the hawkish foreign policy wing of the Republican Party, which desperately wants a viable challenger to Trump. DeSantis quickly got the message that alienating that entire constituency of influential donors and congressional Republicans would sacrifice his claim to being a serious policy wonk rather than an intemperate blowhard who's constantly spouting off about something.

The national political education of DeSantis has just begun. Trump is really starting to unload on him, and, given recent polling, he’s got a lot of ground to make up. We’re about to see what he’s made of.

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos.

Josh Hawley

On Carlson Show, Hawley Joins Republican Party's Pro-Putin Faction

For the first few weeks after Russian forces rolled into Ukraine last year, it was only the most extreme of reality-opposing members of the Republican Party who raised their hands in support of dictator Vladimir Putin. In fact, that pool was barely larger than Marjorie Taylor Greene, Fox host Tucker Carlson, and perennial occupant of Putin’s pocket, Ron Johnson.

However, as time has gone on, things have changed. Carlson, completely unembarrassed by how his show has become one of the most popular features on Russian state media, continued to cheer on the massacre of civilians and destruction of cities. Greene, Johnson, and others have shown that opposing the side of justice and common sense continues to be a winning strategy with GOP voters.

Republicans like Josh Hawley have gone from saying Russia’s invasion was a “brutal assault” that “must be met with strong American resolve” a year ago to saying, “You can either be the party of Ukraine and the globalists, or you can be the party of East Palestine and the working people of America” precisely one year later. You might say that Hawley is running away from his previous positions.

Unsurprisingly, Hawley made his statement of Russian appeasement on an appearance on Carlson’s show. Now Carlson is turning support for Putin into a touchstone for any Republican seeking the 2024 nomination. On Monday night's program, Carlson rolled out the results of a questionnaire he had handed to a series of potential Republican candidates. As might be expected, Carlson jumped straight to the question about cutting off support for Ukraine.

Just as predictably, almost no one who stands a chance of actually being nominated answered the question, though some of the levels of word salad included more cheese than the storeroom at a Domino’s.

Donald Trump, for example, spent his time bloviating about how Putin would never have dared to attack Ukraine on his watch, declared that Russia needs to pay back the U.S. for all the money we’ve spent on NATO, and finished with this nonsensical statement:

“Next, tell Ukraine that there will be little more money coming from us, unless Russia continues to prosecute the war. The president must meet with each side, then both sides together, and quickly work out a deal.”

So no more Ukraine assistance … unless Russia doesn’t stop fighting, in this case … what? More assistance? It’s hard to parse anything out of this beyond the massive wall of ego.

Like Trump, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis gives an answer that is not an answer at all. He uses the opportunity to talk about the border, the Chinese Communist Party, and a supposed “readiness crisis” in the U.S. military before coming down in a position that says “I support Putin” without making it quite as explicit as Carlson does every evening.

“Without question, peace should be the objective. The U.S. should not provide assistance that could require the deployment of American troops or enable Ukraine to engage in offensive operations beyond its borders. F-16s and long-range missiles should therefore be off the table.”

That boils down to a position of reassuring Russia that he’d never think of giving Ukraine what it needs to actually bring the war to a conclusion on its own terms. It’s Chamberlain-lite.

DeSantis finishes by accusing President Joe Biden of “driving Russia into an alliance with China” (history and sequence of events are never challenges to Republicans trying to set a narrative) and saying that Biden has empowered “Putin’s war machine” by … helping Ukraine to destroy more than half of Russia’s armor and military supplies. DeSantis won’t empower Putin by helping Ukraine! Something like that.

As might be expected, former Vice President Mike Pence has the most grounded-in-reality take on Ukraine, or at least the one that most clearly fails to call for outright capitulation to Putin: “There is no room for Putin apologists in the Republican Party,” says Pence. Except there appears to be plenty of room. Nothing but room.

“This is not America’s war, but if Putin is not stopped and the sovereign nation of Ukraine is not restored quickly, he will continue to move toward our NATO allies, and America would then be called upon to send our own. Vladimir Putin has revealed his true nature, a dictator-consumed [by] conquest and willing to spend thousands of lives for his commitment to reestablish the Greater Russian Empire. Anyone who thinks Putin will stop at Ukraine’s border is not owning up to the reality of who Putin is.” … “Ukraine’s victory should be an unmistakable, undeniable defeat for Russia and its allies.”

Pence, in fact, goes on to take such an opposite view from the other candidates that he ends up complaining that Biden has moved too slowly in giving new military systems to Ukraine and has not done enough to sanction Russia. But at least he found a reason to complain about Biden.

Pence goes on at enough length that it appears he may think he’s applying for college rather than filling in a square for a guy who clearly wants the opposite answer. But really, there’s little here that isn’t admirable, even if Pence does name-drop Reagan and repeat the future possibilities of Russian expansion to the point where it sounds like he’s firmly grounded in Domino Theory.

From there, the answers go pretty much off a cliff into candidates too cowardly to have a position other than that they don’t like Joe Biden.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott repeats what every candidate claims about “President Biden’s blank check foreign policy … throwing money at Ukraine with no accountability,” and then, of course, talks about “the border.”

South Carolina’s Sen. Tim Scott wanders around the horn to produce a lot of nothing with statements like, “China is a risk that continues to rise, an adversarial position they have taken against the American people. We should hear what they're telling us. Believe them and act accordingly.” Which has absolutely no meaning and, of course, no consequences if Scott decides to take a more in-or-out position later.

Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie gives what seems to be a pro-Ukraine answer, but it’s one that’s been dulled down to the point where it’s hard to tell: “Our objective is to assist Ukraine sufficiently to enable them to defeat Russian forces and restore their sovereignty. This effort is not about regime change in Russia; it is about respecting the sovereignty of free nations.” Uh-huh. Does that mean we give Ukraine more? Less? Just enough that they can’t possibly win. Christie isn’t content with leaving it there–he finishes with this doozy:

“Also, this is a proxy war being waged by Russia’s ally China against the United States.”

The only thing China has done for Russia in this war is take oil off their hands at fire sale prices, but China comes up in every Republican response because all of them are much more comfortable slamming the current Republican boogeyman—the Chinese Communist Party—than they are saying something about Putin that they may end up walking back if they want that Republican nomination.

It all depends on where Tucker pushes the party by then. By the time debates roll around, every Republican candidate could be sporting a “Z” pin.

It might be interesting to ask all of these candidates how it’s possible that Biden can both be on the side of the Chinese communists and, at the same time, fight a proxy war against them. Don’t expect a logical answer.

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos.

The Republican Party Is Now Crawling With Putin's Agents

The Republican Party Is Now Crawling With Putin's Agents

Back before the election, when Republicans were rubbing their hands over that Red Tsunami on the horizon, they were pretty up front about what they meant to do in Ukraine. As The Washington Post noted, it wasn’t just the fringiest fringe of the party that was threatening to cut off aid to Ukraine. A week before the election, that idea had become so central to the Republican effort that it was being pushed in speeches from California to New Hampshire. And it was being pushed by the new core of the party — MAGA


The threat to cut funding marks a sharp turn for a party whose members almost universally embraced aiding Ukraine after Russia invaded in February. Over the past eight months, supporters of former president Donald Trump have joined with skeptics of military intervention and anti-Biden forces within the GOP to challenge traditionally hawkish Republicans.

It’s little wonder then that, going into this month, Russians — from top to bottom — were counting on Republicans to save their illegal, unprovoked, war-crime laden invasion of UKraine.

To see how pervasive the idea that Republicans would save Russia had become, you don’t have to listen to speeches from Vladimir Putin or Sergei Lavrov. It’s in the despair of this conversation between a Russian soldier and his wife following the elections.

Wife: Ukraine is so small. Why is it taking so long? You were telling me you were waiting for the elections on November 8, but what’s the point?

Russian soldiers on the front lines in Donetsk were expecting salvation, not through some action of their own country, but from what Republicans could do after winning the election. They be more disappointed about the outcome than Kari Lake.

But don’t worry. Republicans have a solution to this problem—maybe even an ultimate solution—one that would not just deliver those Russian soldiers from peril, but hand Vladimir Putin a smashing victory that goes infinitely beyond Ukraine. Here it is that solution, delivered by former Reagan aide Bruce Fein writing in The Hill.

“Congress can end the war in Ukraine and win a Nobel Peace Prize by enacting a statute withdrawing the United States from NATO — transforming it from a mighty offensive oak into a tiny acorn unalarming to Russia.”

We’re at the point where a former member of Ronald Reagan’s White House is lecturing us on how we should stop making Russia feel scared and not get in the way of their invasion. For peace.

The entire piece is not only devoted to destroying NATO, but to explaining how poor little Russia was forced to launch its bloody invasion after being “provoked” by the United States. It doesn’t explain how the United States provoked Russia into attacking Chechnya, Georgia, and Syria. But they’ll get around to that.

Could Republicans still pull Putin’s ass out of the fire? If they had both Congress and the White House, they could. It’s a very good bet that they would. This isn’t some new idea expressed by some single outlier. Pulling the United States out of NATO is exactly what Donald Trump threatened to do back in 2018. As Hunter reported at the time, “[Trump] doesn't joke about his praise for dictators and his willingness to play ball with autocrats, and despite the damage-control efforts of an anonymous senior administration official, he ain't joking here. He's been blustering about either ’renegotiating’ the United States position in NATO or abandoning it since the campaign days.”

Giving Russia the freedom to attack Europe might have been something that most Republicans thought ridiculous when Trump was coming down that gold escalator. They don’t think that way now. Starving NATO to please Putin has become a central tenet of Republican politics. They want to gift Russia with something that Russia could never win on the battlefield; not just victory over Ukraine, but victory over NATO. And the United States.


Today is the day of remembrance for the the Holodomor. Though most here are likely already familiar with that term, it refers to a period in 1932 and 1933 when the whole of the Soviet Union was facing a food shortage due to unusual climate conditions and bad planning (this was also a Dust Bowl year in the United States, with back to back years of record high and record low temperatures).

However, Ukraine was the largest grain producing region in the Soviet Union at the time and had a relatively abundant crop. Under the cover of the general shortage, Joseph Stalin placed grain quotas on Ukraine that essentially robbed the nation of all its food. With corn and wheat carried away by the Red Army, Ukrainians were deliberately left to starve. There are even reports of food being destroyed to accelerate this process. Estimates of the resulting genocide range from a low of 3 million to as many as 10 million dead. Stalin followed this by a program of encouraging more Russian settlement in Ukraine.

Both commentators on Russian state media and translated messages from Russian military have suggested that Russia should have a second Holodomor as a means of punishing Ukraine.


It’s been common since the start of the invasion for pundits in the United States to repeat propaganda from Russian state media claiming that the sanctions are having little impact on the Russian economy. However, as The Washington Post reports, it’s getting a lot harder to pretend that Russia isn’t hurting. Badly. And that failing economy is having an increasing impact on the battlefield.

For months, Putin claimed that the “economic blitzkrieg” against Russia had failed, but Western sanctions imposed over the invasion of Ukraine are digging ever deeper into Russia’s economy, exacerbating equipment shortages for its army and hampering its ability to launch any new ground offensive or build new missiles, economists and Russian businessmen said.


Just a few of the Ukrainian troops, out there in the cold and snow, facing off with a bloody-minded enemy who is trying to destroy their nation and their people. How are they holding up?

Election season overtime is finally winding down, so Democratic operative Joe Sudbay joins David Nir on The Downballot as a guest-host this week to recap some of the last results that have just trickled in. At the top of the list is the race for Arizona attorney general, where Democrat Kris Mayes has a 510-vote lead with all ballots counted (a mandatory recount is unlikely to change the outcome). Also on the agenda is Arizona's successful Proposition 308, which will allow students to receive financial aid regardless of immigration status.

Over in California, Democrats just took control of the boards of supervisors in two huge counties, Riverside and Orange—in the case of the latter, for the first time since 1976. Joe and David also discuss which Democratic candidates who fell just short this year they'd like to see try again in 2024, and what the GOP's very skinny House majority means for Kevin McCarthy's prospects as speaker.

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos.

Russian Fatherland Is Losing Its Fathers -- And Its Population

Russian Fatherland Is Losing Its Fathers -- And Its Population

As Russian forces continue their retreat on the battlefield in Ukraine, Moscow has turned to attacking stationary civilian targets that don't shoot back. It's pathetic. And Russia's failure to intimidate Ukraine through wanton destruction can be seen in the flow of the two peoples.

Ukrainians who left are flooding back into their country, while young Russians head to the exits in extraordinary numbers. Over the long run, the loss of draft-age men, especially educated ones, could pose a greater threat to Russian power than declaring victory and withdrawing.

"Demography is destiny," the French philosopher Auguste Comte famously said. A country's people as measured by numbers, age and educational level is said to be the fuel that powers civilizations. Russia is losing on all three counts.

Even before its invasion of Ukraine, Russia was facing a collapse in population as fertility rates cratered. Among Vladimir Putin's delusions was the belief that his government could encourage more births and at the same time send potential fathers to the frontlines as cannon fodder.

A report by the United Nations sees Russia's population falling by roughly 2 million by 2030. And it came out before Putin's mass mobilization. Many will die on the battlefield or be gravely wounded. And having one's man sent off to war is not conducive to planning a family.

Then there is the rush to the border. The first escapees tended to be Russians repelled by the unprovoked attack on Ukraine.

These were generally the educated elite every country should want to keep. The draft now has less political Russians looking for an out. They're going to Kazakhstan, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Israel, Argentina, Western Europe. Others have gone into hiding.

In Moscow, it's like COVID, Part II. After a summer during which the apolitical youth partied like there was no war, banks started closing hundreds of branches. Storefront windows are being papered over. And Moscow has become a city of women. Dating apps in countries where Russian men have fled, meanwhile, are doing big business.

When Russia first invaded, Israel assumed it would be processing a lot of Ukrainians. To its surprise, it has been receiving a surge of Russians instead.

By contrast, Ukraine is seeing a rush of women and their children back into the country. They want to be reunited with their husbands who stayed behind to fight. Another motivation is guilt at not taking part in the momentous defense of Ukraine, according to reports.

Can you imagine the emotional pull required to return to a country that has just seen 30% of its power grid knocked out? And right before the start of winter?

A very recent Gallup poll has 70% of Ukrainians wanting to continue the fight until they win. And of that majority, 91% define victory and taking back every scrap of land Russia as seized, including Crimea, which Moscow "annexed" in 2014.

A woman in Kherson told the BBC's World Service that she was not going anywhere until Kherson was liberated by Ukrainian troops: "People are not panicking, nobody wants to be evacuated."

A desperate Putin has imposed martial law in the four Ukrainian regions he claims to have annexed: Luhansk, Donetsk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson regions. He's called for "heightened readiness" in Moscow, a decree that can include vehicle searches and traffic restrictions. The mayor of Moscow tries to reassure his public, insisting that none of this will "restrict the normal rhythm of life." Too late for that.

American fans of the authoritarian Putin should take note: He is bringing defeat upon his own country, not to mention disgrace. A demographic winter is upon Russia, and Russian winters are famous for their brutality.

Reprinted with permission from Creators.