Rand Paul parrots Russian propaganda, suggests Ukraine had it coming
Also: Tucker Carlson's claim that Elon Musk "unshackled" his Twitter account is unadulterated BS.
Vladimir Putin justified his brutal invasion of Ukraine by denying the sovereignty of the Ukrainian government and insisting Russians and Ukrainians are “one people.” Given the leader’s line, it’s no surprise that Russian troops have been photographed flying the Soviet flag into battle.
Ukraine has a democratically elected government that voted three years ago to forge closer ties with NATO and the European Union. The idea that the country is “one people” with its belligerent neighbor is Russian propaganda, complicated by the fact of Soviet-era population exchange and other forcible methods of displacement that Putin has often used to obscure his aspirations to rule over an expanding empire. And that idea has a vocal advocate in Rand Paul, who pushed it to Secretary of State Anthony Blinken during a Senate hearing on Tuesday.
Some quick history: Paul’s dad, Ron Paul, has a long background of making excuses for Putin, including denying that Russians shot down Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 and arguing Putin has the right to invade an annex neighboring countries.
Rand follows in his father’s pro-Putin footsteps: He was totally unbothered by the Trump campaign sharing internal polling data with the Kremlin during the 2016 campaign. He traveled to Russia in 2018 to meet with an official who was under US sanctions for interfering in the 2016 presidential election, and brought with him a handwritten note from Trump to Putin. His 2017 vote to block a treaty that would allow NATO membership for Montenegro prompted the late John McCain to bluntly proclaim on the Senate floor that “the senator from Kentucky is now working for Vladimir Putin.”
Paul has made clear he isn’t a big fan of democracy and clearly has a certain fondness for Putin’s brand of authoritarianism that’s shared elsewhere in his party. But given Putin’s status as an international pariah and the illogic of his argument that Ukraine is part of Russia — after all, couldn’t the same logic be used to justify Britain re-annexing the US? — it was still a bit jarring to hear Paul parrot Russian propaganda.
Paul thinks Ukraine was asking for it
While questioning Blinken, Paul suggested Biden had antagonized Putin by refusing to slam the door on Ukraine’s ambitions to join NATO. Blinken noted in reply that those sorts of decisions are “sovereign decisions,” then made a case that Ukraine has good reason to want to join the defensive alliance.
“If you look at the countries that Russia has attacked over the last years — Georgia, leaving forces in Transnistria and Moldova, and then repeatedly, Ukraine — these were countries that were not part of NATO,” Blinken said. “It has not attacked NATO countries, for probably a very good reason.”
Paul then tried to undercut Blinken’s point by parroting Putin. He suggested the important thing isn’t that those countries aren’t NATO members, but that they’re parts of the former USSR and therefore part of Russia.
“You could also argue the countries they've attacked were part of Russia, or were part of the Soviet Union,” he said.
“I firmly disagree with that proposition,” Blinken replied. “It is the fundamental right of these countries to decide their own future and their own destiny.”
But Paul refused to concede the point even after Blinken reiterated that just because a country was formerly part of the USSR “does not give Russia the right to attack them.”
President Biden has played a leading role in keeping NATO countries united behind the Ukrainian cause and against Russian aggression, but Paul’s comments are a reminder that US foreign policy could look very different — and has, in the recent past.
Anti-NATO sentiment is not a fringe view within the GOP — earlier this month more than 30 percent of House Republicans voted against a symbolic resolution of support for NATO. Former Trump national security adviser John Bolton recently said he thinks Trump would have withdrawn from NATO during his second term. Republicans and Trump-appointed officials were siding with Russia while Trump tried to disarm Ukraine less than three years ago. NATO support was one of the first things Trump’s campaign chair Paul Manafort excised from the Republican platform in 2016, shortly before he was indicted for acting as an unregistered agent of Putin’s puppet government in Ukraine.
So while Republicans have broadly tried to say the right things about supporting Ukraine — albeit in extremely hypocritical fashion on more than one occasion — there’s a significant amount of pro-Putin (or at least anti-anti-Putin) sentiment bubbling just below the surface. Thank goodness the adults who unequivocally stand for democracy and sovereignty are in charge, for a few more years at least.
Tucker claims his Twitter account was “unshackled” be Elon Musk. He’s full of it.
News that Elon Musk reached a deal to buy Twitter and take it private is being celebrated by the worst people in the world, including Tucker Carlson. In fact, Carlson began his show on Monday with a chyron proclaiming that his Twitter account — which was locked last month for a transphobic tweet misgendering assistant secretary of health Rachel Levine — had been “UNSHACKLED BY ELON MUSK.”
There’s just one problem — that’s not at all what happened. Musk had nothing to do with restoring Carlson’s account.