In the United States, the Republican Party struggles to hide its leanings toward Russian authoritarianism

There was already aid to Ukraine and the inability of American elected officials to agree on a bill to militarily support the former Soviet republic that has been attacked by Russia for two years. There is now the death of Russian opposition leader Alexeï Navalny, who, for several days, has no longer left much room for interpretation on the density and dangerousness of the ideological divisions which are upsetting the American Republican Party.

Under the influence of former President Donald Trump, the political party continues to tear itself apart, now without fear of displaying authoritarian tendencies of which Russian dictator Vladimir Putin has become one of the main fuels.

“We have to take seriously the fact that there is now a Putin wing within the Republican Party,” said former Republican congresswoman and populist’s bête noire Liz Cheney. It was Sunday evening, on CNN. “And the issue [de la prochaine présidentielle aux États-Unis] is to now ensure that the Putin wing of the Republican Party does not take control of the West Wing of the White House,” the seat of the American executive branch.

We had to wait three days before hearing the former American president – ​​and current leader in the race for the Republican nomination – comment on the tragic disappearance of the Russian opponent of Vladimir Putin, which occurred last Friday in an Arctic penal colony.

The death of Alexei Navalny has sent a wave of indignation across the free world, with a chorus of leaders accusing the Russian president of being largely responsible. Donald Trump did not add his voice.

Instead, he tried to compare himself to the Russian opponent. And brought together the 91 charges (for insurrection and attempted theft of elections, among others) and the numerous legal challenges which intersect his electoral campaign with the Russian dissident’s fight against corruption and for freedom in his country. “The sudden death of Alexei Navalny made me aware of what is happening in our country,” Donald Trump wrote on his social network.

On Tuesday, Mr. Navalny’s mother demanded that Vladimir Putin hand over her son’s body “without delay”, with the opponent’s entourage accusing the authorities of hiding the remains of the political prisoner to cover up a “murder “.

“This is a slow and steady progression of radical left politicians, prosecutors and judges who are leading us down the path to destruction,” added Donald Trump, while once again denouncing — and wrong — “rigged elections” and “unjust court decisions that are destroying America.”

In the echo chambers of Trumpism, the message has certainly helped maintain its brand. But elsewhere, the ex-president’s barely hidden friendships with Putin are seen in a different light.

This was the case at the Munich Security Conference, where, last weekend, the Republican’s restraint in the face of a dictator who silences all opposition with written trials and transfers to the gulag was especially been characterized as risky behavior. According to several participants, any opposition to American aid to Ukraine mainly serves the expansionist interests of the despotic Russian regime in the former Soviet republic, in addition to letting it move closer to other doors.

A disturbing influence

Last week, the former US president certainly brought honey to the ears of said despot by suggesting that the United States should not defend its NATO allies against Russian aggression if those countries do not maintain a certain threshold in their military spending.

He also turned his electoral machine against the 22 Republican senators who dared to stand up to him by voting for the foreign aid plan of 95 billion US dollars intended, among other things, to support Ukraine in its war against the authoritarian Russian regime and Taiwan which faces growing tensions with China. The text must still be approved by the United States House of Representatives, where Trumpists are still organizing their resistance to the project.

“I think the decline in support for Ukraine is almost entirely because our presidential candidate doesn’t think it’s a good idea,” Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said. you can read it in the pages of Wall Street Journalto summarize this other crucial political debate simplified to the extreme by populism.

On Saturday, Moscow claimed “total control” of the small town of Avdiïvka, located in eastern Ukraine, after a strategic withdrawal of Ukrainian troops. On the ground, kyiv’s armies have to deal with shortages of equipment and ammunition which are not unrelated to the ambivalence and new oppositions which are taking root in the Western camp.

A return to isolationism?

For months, Donald Trump has been seeking to have the head of Mitch McConnell, and he knows very well how to lead his people in the American legislative apparatus to not only harm the foreign policies of the Democrats, who are in power, but also to block the institution in order to hold Senator McConnell, this veteran of American politics, responsible.

This open war no longer seeks only to debunk the last vestiges of the Republican elite, of which McConnell and Cheney are part, but also to break definitively with the conception of a past world in which American conservatism could be united behind the idea of a muscular foreign policy aimed at promoting America’s national economic and security interests throughout the world.

A framework to which populist supporters now oppose a revanchist, stubborn and self-interested isolationism, seeking to turn the country in on itself and on internal issues, starting with the question of borders.

Last week, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene threatened to launch a campaign to impeach fragile House Speaker Republican Mike Johnson if Johnson sought to introduce the Ukraine bill in its current form. It thus leaves the prospect of another psychodrama in the ranks of the “ Grand Old Party”, a psychodrama from which kyiv can only suffer and from which Moscow can only benefit.

Resist the “Putin wing” or bring conservatism into the fight against new authoritarian excesses? The choice is almost impossible for Mike Johnson, placed at the heart of a Republican Party which seems to be suffering from the inside what it is being asked to eradicate on the other side of the world.

And history could, for that, judge him harshly, believes Liz Cheney. “He will have to explain to future generations, to his children, to his grandchildren, if he did what was right, if he was a force for good, if he supported freedom or if he remained on the path of cowardice by doing what Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin wanted him to do,” she said on CNN.

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