Navalny’s death shocks but does not change, divides the US Congress By Reuters

©Reuters. People attend a vigil after the death of Alexei Navalny, outside the Russian consulate in New York City, U.S., February 16, 2024. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

By Patricia Zengerle and Makini Brice

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. lawmakers expressed shock and outrage over the death of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny on Friday, but the news appears unlikely to bridge deep divisions over whether the United States should continue its support military to Ukraine.

“There are some (members of Congress) who I don’t think can be persuaded because the narrative is so strong,” Republican Rep. Michael McCaul, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, told reporters Friday.

“I think we’ve been brainwashed, if you will, that we have to choose between our southern border and Ukraine. I don’t agree with that,” McCaul, an aid advocate in Kiev as he fights nearly two… Russian invasion lasted a year, he said at a breakfast sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor.

News of Navalny’s death comes as America’s political world wrestles with how and whether to stand up to Russia, particularly after Washington approved more than $110 billion in defense assistance for Ukraine, and Biden’s request for more 60 billion dollars for Kiev is blocked in the meantime. United States Congress.

Hardline conservatives, many of whom argue that U.S. funds should not be sent overseas at a time of steep federal deficits, were clear Friday that Navalny’s death will do little to resolve those political fights.

Asked whether Navalny’s death affected his thinking about the need to counter Russia more forcefully, Republican Representative Matt Gaetz said in an emailed statement: “No. I don’t think Ukraine was missing another 60 billion dollars to save Navalny.”

With its $95 billion military aid package for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan in jeopardy, President Joe Biden’s administration has issued increasingly dire warnings that Ukraine needs more assistance.

“History watches the House of Representatives… Failure to support Ukraine at this critical moment will never be forgotten,” Biden told reporters at the White House on Friday.


So far, opponents of aid to Ukraine appear unfazed.

“The death of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny is a tragedy and demonstrates the fact that Vladimir Putin is a dictator,” Republican Rep. Byron Donalds said in an emailed statement.

“However, this does not change domestic politics in the United States.”

Biden requested additional funds for Ukraine in October, but these were not approved as Republicans insisted the package included changes unrelated to U.S. immigration policy and border enforcement with Mexico.

Former President Donald Trump, the party’s frontrunner in the race for the White House this year, rejected a Senate compromise that included border provisions, and Senate Republicans blocked it. But in a surprise change, the Democratic-controlled Senate this week overwhelmingly approved the security package without most of the border measures.

Republican House Speaker Mike Johnson, whose caucus is closely allied with Trump, said the Republican-controlled chamber would not rush to a vote, insisting the bill must include tougher border measures. The House is not expected to pass the bill for weeks.

Johnson issued a statement harshly criticizing Putin as “a vicious dictator” following news of Navalny’s death.

However, he did not refer specifically to the aid package in calling for opposition to Russia and measures to limit Putin’s ability to pay for the war.

“As Congress debates the best path forward to support Ukraine, the United States and our partners must use all available means to prevent Putin from financing his unprovoked war in Ukraine and aggression against the Baltic states” , Johnson’s statement read.

There is growing skepticism among Russia hawks in the Republican Party that even major events, such as the death of a major opposition leader or this week’s revelation of a possible Russian nuclear threat in space, could tilt supporters of hard-liners who embrace a more isolationist “America First” approach. Trump’s approach to world affairs.

Asked if he thought news of Navalny’s death would change the discussion, McCaul said: “Well, to the extent that members of Congress know who he is.”

Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *