Tuesday, July 23, 2024

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House GOP Candidate Sparks Outrage: Suggests CIA, Ukraine Behind Moscow Attack

Alarm Grows as Republican Hopeful Parrots Kremlin Propaganda, Demands U.S. Abandon Ukraine.

Moscow
Photo: Mosreg.ru

Over 130 people were killed when gunmen opened fire and set the Crocus City Hall in Moscow ablaze in an incident that the Islamic State offshoot known as ISIS-K has claimed responsibility for. Despite the militant group’s claim, Russian President Vladimir Putin wasted no time in pointing a finger at Ukraine, fueling concerns he may be attempting to manufacture a pretext to escalate the war.

“This atrocity may be just a link in a whole series of attempts by those who have been at war with our country since 2014 by the hands of the neo-Nazi Kyiv regime,” Putin declared in a televised address, resurrecting his widely debunked claim that Ukraine is controlled by Nazis despite its Jewish president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

The Kremlin’s insinuations didn’t stop there. Sergey Karnaukhov, a Russian state TV host regarded as a propaganda mouthpiece for Putin, questioned rhetorically: “Ukraine is a proxy force of American and British military and intelligence services. Does anyone have any doubt as to who did this?”

These insane assertions are raising alarm bells among Western officials and scholars of Russian politics, who see them as a tool to justify escalating the conflict in Ukraine. Political scientist Mariya Y. Omelicheva argued that “Russians will be much more likely to support the expansion of the ‘special military operation’ into a full-scale war if it is being fought under the banner of counterterrorism.”

The White House has firmly rejected the Kremlin’s inflammatory claims. “This was a terrorist attack that was conducted by ISIS. Mr. Putin understands that. He knows that very well,” said Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre. Her colleague John Kirby was even more blunt, declaring: “Russian officials seem to be pretty good manure salesmen.

Alarmingly, the unfounded allegations are being amplified by some voices in the United States. Joe Kent, a Republican candidate for Congress in Washington state, has latched onto the conspiracy theory that the CIA or Ukraine’s intelligence services could have orchestrated the attack using Islamic militants as proxies.

“If the Ukrainians were using CIA or [British intelligence agency] MI6 money, which they have a lot of access to, and they were tasked with conducting sabotage behind Russian lines, I mean, this is too easy. You can get access to these jihadis because they’re looking to work for the highest bidder, so it does kind of make sense,” Kent told the far right-wing One America “News” Network.

Further exemplifying his apparent love for Putin, Kent used his appearance on the Nunn Report podcast to aggressively argue for policies that would gravely undermine Ukraine’s right to self-defense while rewarding Russian aggression and war crimes. He advocated blocking further military aid to Ukraine—assistance that has stalled in the House because of obstructionism from his GOP colleagues. 

Kent’s rationale was the misguided belief that cutting off supplies would “force the country to the bargaining table and freeze the conflict.” However, Ukraine has made clear that a delay in military aid would merely afford Russia a chance to regroup and prepare for an even larger onslaught, which would only extend the conflict. 

Not content to just kneecap Ukraine’s defensive capabilities, Kent went so far as to insist the U.S. should effectively hand Putin a major victory. He declared that to “entice Russia to stand down,” Washington should preemptively promise to permanently bar Ukraine from joining NATO—capitulating to one of the Kremlin’s key demands that triggered the invasion in the first place. 

Kent further advocated that the U.S. steer clear of any role in redrawing borders between the two nations as part of potential land-for-peace negotiations, callously dismissing the process as merely “a conflict between Slavic cousins…where the Slavic cousins need to work out where those lines go.” By suggesting this, Kent revealed a profound ignorance of how the world works in 2024. The impact of the Ukrainian war isn’t limited to Ukraine and Russia, and decreases economic stability worldwide. 

His Democratic opponent, Rep. Marie Gluesenkamp Perez, blasted Kent’s “shocking” willingness to “swallow and repeat the propaganda narratives pushed out by the Kremlin.” She warned: “Joe Kent would be Putin’s go-to guy in Congress, one of the many reasons why electing Joe Kent would be dangerous for the entire country.”

Kent’s disturbing embrace of Kremlin disinformation underscores the GOP’s deeply concerning drift toward cozying up to Putin’s Russia, reflecting both its growing authoritarianism and embrace of the racist “great replacement” ideology. Some experts have raised the alarm about Russian money potentially being funneled to GOP campaigns as an incentive for candidates like Kent to advocate pro-Putin policies once in office.

The NRA’s documented ties to Russia, including allegedly acting as a foreign asset to Russia leading up to the 2016 election, highlight how Moscow has been cultivating undue influence among Republicans. With the GOP increasingly willing to parrot Kremlin talking points and some members obstructing military aid to Ukraine, fears are mounting that Putin has successfully co-opted a major U.S. political party to undermine democracy from within.

For Putin, the horrific Moscow attack presents an opportunity to change the subject from Ukraine’s stiffening resistance and his military’s continued failures—not to mention the looming Russian spring conscription that could provoke domestic backlash. Much like the alleged false flag 1999 apartment bombings that Putin exploited to launch the Second Chechen War, the Kremlin is now attempting to link the concert massacre to Ukraine in a transparent bid to manufacture a counterterrorism narrative.

However, polls indicate many Russians are weary of the war and reluctant to sacrifice more of their loved ones. The Kremlin’s audacious disinformation campaign seeks to overcome this “truth deficiency” by stoking xenophobic hysteria over Islamic extremism—even as respected scholars argue ISIS is targeting Russia because of Putin’s decision to intervene in Syria.

As the Moscow attack’s aftermath continues to unfold, it has already exposed an unsettling nexus between Kremlin propaganda, growing GOP subservience to Putin’s interests, and the exploitation of terrorism to fuel war. For pro-democracy forces in the United States, pushback against these interlinked threats is vital to upholding liberal democratic values and thwarting further escalation of an increasingly perilous conflict.