While the Ukrainians are defending their right to independence for the umpteenth time in the past few centuries, fighting the Russian invasion with all available means, American citizens are outraged by the delay in closing the sky over Ukraine and demand the toughest sanctions against the Russian Federation.
has already reported that the majority of American citizens support abandoning Russian oil and are ready to tighten their belts and pay more taxes so that they could protect a democratic country in the center of Europe. They also demand that NATO close the sky over Ukraine.
Meanwhile, a battle takes place between Republicans and Democrats in the United States. This battle is aimed to show who will now prove to be better in protecting Kyiv from the Russian aggressor. One of the central articles on The New York Times on March 5 focuses on tensions within the American political beau monde that, of course, earns points for themselves ahead of the upcoming elections to the US House of Representatives on November 8, 2022.
How do you like it, Donald Trump: "There is no room for Putin's apologists in the party"
The New York Times points out that the Republican rhetoric towards the situation in Ukraine has changed. According to the outlet, immediately after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, some Republicans criticized President Biden for weakness and insufficient toughness towards the Russian Federation.
At the same time, some party members, including Donald Trump, had previously sympathized with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The latter called the bloody dictator and aggressor "very savvy" and his aggression "genius". Now, the party leaders are trying to tone down such sentiments of the former president.
For instance, Mike Pence, the country's former vice president, stated that there "is no room in this party for apologists for Putin."
Republicans’ new oil and gas plan
Some Republicans recently criticized Biden for the fact that the crisis provoked an increase in gasoline prices. They have climbed the national average to nearly $4 a gallon.
All week as Ukrainian cities are being bombarded by Russian missiles, top Republican senators have used devastating arguments against Biden to criticize the restrictions his administration has imposed on oil and gas leases, including cancellation of the Keystone XL pipeline (that was closed back in 2021 due to the protests of environmentalists—Ed. note). This oil pipeline network in Canada and the United States pipes oil from the Athabasca (Canada) oil sands to US refineries in Nebraska and Illinois, and from the Gulf Coast to Texas. It also transports light crude oil from the Illinois Basin to Montana and North Dakota.
On Friday, March 4, 25 Republican governors joined in the criticism, calling on Biden to "reverse his policies and restore America’s energy independence."
"We can protect our national energy security and sell gas and oil to our friends rather than buy from our enemies — specifically Russia," the governors stated
According to them, People in the US will not be able to handle another spike at the gas pump, and allies cannot afford to be held hostage to Putin's tyranny and aggression.
Ukrainians as props: Republicans earn points
Although some aspects of Republican rhetoric crumble upon closer inspection, the newly coordinated message has united the right after the fractious intramural debate over Putin's attempt to take over Ukraine.
"With inflation soaring, linking Biden’s handling of the war in Ukraine to his domestic woes could prove to be a potent argument with voters in the fall," the outlet reports.
The pressure on Biden and criticism of him as too weak a president who is moving too slowly on the path of saving Ukraine from the Kremlin could help the Republicans return to power in 2022, American journalists say.
The danger, according to foreign policy experts, is that a war in the heart of Europe with vast geopolitical implications could turn into yet another partisan squabble.
"It’s like foreign policy is a blank screen on which we project all our internal divides," Brian Katulis, co-editor of The Liberal Patriot, a website focused on the politics of national security, said.
"As if the Ukrainians are just props in our own political story," he added.
Oil and gas debate: Parliamentarians try to "put the squeeze" on Biden
During a closed-door meeting of several dozen conservative members of the House of Representatives, Robert O'Brien, a former national security adviser, urged lawmakers to support more aggressive measures against Russia.
According to multiple Republican aides, one of the factors that raised concerns were reports from Ukrainians themselves.
"Oil prices are soaring, and in a weird way Russia is benefiting from its own invasion," Maryan Zablotskyy, a member of the Verkhovna Rada, told the outlet.
The parliamentarian from Kyiv stressed that the government of the Russian Federation should be deprived of all revenue.
By focusing on Russian oil, the Republicans are exacerbating the Democrat division. The White House opposes a ban on Russian oil and gas imports to the US, but House Speaker Nancy Pelosi stated: "I'm all for it. Ban it."
Democrats hesitate, but they are "are infuriated by dependence on the RF"
Seven Democrats support a new energy sanctions bill being promoted by Senators Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska.
But leading party officials, including Senator Robert Menendez of New Jersey and Chuck Schumer of New York, Senate Majority Leader, have not yet signed the bill.
Republicans are threatening to force the document through the Senate floor next week unless Schumer relents. He seems to have little choice. Other influential Democrats have expressed their support.
"It just infuriates me to think that we are dependent on Russian gas and oil," Senator Richard Durbin of Illinois stated. Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia also supported the ban.
Sanctions against the "black list" of companies: hello to Coca-Cola
Republicans are insisting on even more aggressive measures—so-called secondary sanctions against foreign entities doing business with Russia.
They are calling for a few-holds-barred defense of Ukraine. In a speech Friday, Pence is expected to call on Biden to "impose sanctions on all financial institutions in Russia."
The idea behind such sanctions, as Senator Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, the top Republican on the Senate Banking Committee, stated last week, is "to force the world to choose between doing business with Russia or with the United States."
"We're sort of late in this game," said Rich Goldberg, a former director of the Trump National Security Council and leading architect of the Iran sanctions effort.
"Every hour that was lost is time we never get back," he stresses.
Biden's people: "We were aggressive"
Biden administration officials believe they were aggressive and point to a series of unprecedented steps taken by the US and its allies in a matter of days.
They stress that in response to the invasion of Ukraine, Western countries have unleashed a long list of penalties and restrictions on Russia. For example, they:
- hit the Russian economy and punished its national currency, the ruble;
- banned Russia from importing key technologies;
- even hunt for the yachts of businessmen from Putin's circle.
"We guarantee that this war will be a strategic failure for Vladimir Putin," a senior administration official stated.
White House officials liken the sanctions to a boa constrictor strangling the Russian economy, with pressure increasing in response to the Kremlin's escalation.
"Sanctions are long-lasting and sustainable," Jen Psaki, White House Press secretary, said.
The administration has so far opposed oil and gas restrictions and is holding back a number of measures to increase pressure on Moscow if necessary.
Will Ukraine hold out: War is faster than sanctions
The problem the White House is facing is one of timing. How long can Ukraine hold out? Can the sanctions affect Putin's calculations quickly enough to change the situation on the battlefield?
"Look, there’s still a reasonable possibility that there’s a bank run and the entire Russian economy collapses next Wednesday," Brian O’Toole, a former Treasury Department official, expressed hope.
"But the pace of sanctions is not as fast as the pace of war," he admitted.
Instead of an afterword. Intra-American pressure on President Joe Biden, both from the American people and opponents, including the desire of the Republicans now to prove themselves to be tougher, can help Ukraine reduce the number of victims of the war and the destruction of infrastructure. However, while the Americans are discussing whether Kyiv is props for them or not, missiles and bombs continue to struck Ukrainian cities. The encouraging factor is that both American parties listen to the opinion of their people, as US citizens have a lot of experience in protests and are always ready to show their dissatisfaction to the authorities on the streets.