Trudy Rubin: In the war between Ukraine and Russia, which side is the GOP on?

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The “party of Putin,” also known as the Republican Party, seems determined to help Vladimir Putin defeat Ukraine.

By boosting the Russian president, the GOP is not only undermining U.S. security and supporting a dangerous adversary, but it is also helping Hamas in its effort to destroy the Israeli state.

You don’t believe me? Consider the following.

The House Republican majority, cowed by its MAGA wing and encouraged by Donald Trump, has rushed to abandon Ukraine. Mike Johnson, the newly installed speaker, ripped up a combined military assistance package for Israel and Ukraine and eliminated aid for Kyiv.

And now, even Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who previously pushed back forcefully against GOP isolationists, seems to have been swayed by the extremists. That is dangerous for U.S. security and for Israel, as well.

At first, McConnell tried to fight back against MAGA recklessness.

“Some say our support for Ukraine comes at the expense of more important priorities. But as I’ve said every time I get the chance, this is a false choice,” McConnell said late last month. “If Russia prevails, there’s no question that Putin’s appetite for empire will actually extend into NATO, raising the threat to the U.S. transatlantic alliance and the risk of war for America.”

Too true.

Yet McConnell now appears to have been trapped into tying further Ukraine military aid to fixing the southern border, a process that will take months or years — if it ever happens — leaving Ukraine without the military support it will need this winter and onward.

The GOP might as well tell Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy: “Drop dead.”

What’s so bizarre about this GOP blindness is that Putin has positioned himself as the staunch ally of Hamas, Hezbollah, and Iran — all groups that most Republicans rail against. By helping Putin, Republicans are strengthening all three.

A senior Hamas delegation visited Moscow on Oct. 26, as did a top Iranian official. The Kremlin refuses to call Hamas a terrorist group and has not condemned Hamas’ actions on Oct. 7. A stunned Israeli foreign ministry condemned Russia’s hosting of Hamas as a reprehensible step that gives support to terrorism.

Certainly, Hamas thinks Russia is supporting it (as it has done for many years).

“We have factories producing Kalashnikov assault rifles and their ammunition. We have a Russian license to produce Kalashnikov ammunition in Gaza. There are countries that support us politically. Even Russia sympathizes with us,” Ali Baraka, a senior Hamas official, boasted on Russia Today’s Arabic news channel.

“Russia is happy that America is getting embroiled in the Palestinian war. It eases the pressure on the Russians in Ukraine. One war eases the pressure in another war. So we’re not alone on the battlefield,” he said.

The Israel-Hamas war has given Putin an opportunity to pose as the champion of the Global South against Western or Israeli policies. Or as Putin describes it, “The ugly neocolonial system of international relations.”

But anyone who buys that nonsense (including some Americans on the progressive left) ignores the grim fact that Putin is the ultimate colonialist, trying to destroy the sovereign state of Ukraine and force it back under the control of a rebuilt Russian empire.

Moreover, the Kremlin critique of Israel’s bombing of Gaza — Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov denounced “indiscriminately using force” against civilians — is nauseatingly hypocritical. Russia deliberately pulverized hospitals and markets in Syria and has deliberately targeted Ukrainian civilians, schools, hospitals, and markets for the past two years.

If this isn’t enough to wake the GOP isolationists to the danger of helping Putin, let us consider that Iran is providing Russia with endless drones to target Ukraine. In return, U.S. intelligence sources suspect (although this is not confirmed yet) that Syria may be providing Iran’s proxy, Hezbollah in southern Lebanon, with Russian-made surface-to-air air defense systems to be used against Israel.

These systems were gifted to Damascus by the Kremlin. Such a gift would require a green light from Moscow. They would be a thank you to Tehran for its drones.

So let’s sum up the plot of this theater of the absurd: The GOP wants to cut aid to Ukraine (or make its passage impossible) even as the current temporary funding bill expires at the end of November.

At that point, U.S. aid to Ukraine runs out, meaning that Kyiv may be fighting without enough ammunition at a critical junction in its effort to push back Russia. Contrary to many media reports, a stalemate in Ukraine’s efforts is not inevitable, because Ukraine has been making progress in cutting off Russian supply routes to Crimea.

If President Joe Biden would only, finally, send the kind of long-range ATACMS missiles Kyiv needs (he hasn’t, contrary to a lot of bad news reporting), Ukraine could finish that job.

Instead, to repeat, Republicans are playing into Putin’s hands, helping Hamas, Hezbollah, and Iran. In so doing, they are increasing the danger to Israel — and to America.

Which side are you on, boys? Which side are you on?

Trudy Rubin is a columnist and editorial-board member for The Philadelphia Inquirer, P.O. Box 8263, Philadelphia, Pa. 19101. Her email address is

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