As the 2022 midterm elections loom on Nov. 8, the war in Ukraine has become another debate in the struggle for control of the House of Representatives and Senate.
On Oct. 18, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, a Republican representative from California, stated that the Biden administration’s policy of financial and military aid will change should the Republicans win in November, according to the BBC.
“Currently, his party are favourites to take control of the House, the lower chamber of Congress which initiates all spending resolutions, according to the US Constitution. As Speaker, Mr McCarthy would decide which bills come to the floor for a vote. Other Republicans have expressed similar doubts. In May, for example, Missouri Senator Josh Hawley said that Ukraine aid is ‘not in America’s interests’ and ‘allows Europe to freeload,’” the BBC said.
Mike Pence, former vice president and Republican senator from Indiana, has made statements that limiting or cutting Ukrainian aid was not representing party policy. Senator Mitch McConnell, another influential Republican congressman, has requested that President Biden further increase military equipment shipments to Ukraine.
There is also divide among Democrats on how spending for Ukraine should continue. According to CNN, a letter was sent to Biden on Oct. 25 from 30 House Democrats including Washington State Representative Pramila Jayapal, urging the administration to be more forceful in attempts to end the war diplomatically.
“After the letter garnered sharp criticism from some progressives, including Reps. Mark Pocan of Wisconsin and Jake Auchincloss of Massachusetts, Jayapal sought to clarify the caucus’ position and affirm its support of the administration’s policy,” CNN reported.
Matthew Warshauer, professor of history at the Central Connecticut State University, said Republicans are also seeking to tie the war in Ukraine to economic issues, including inflation and the rise in gas and oil prices nationwide. He said while European countries — including Germany and the United Kingdom — were dependent on Russian fuel, the situation is different in the United States.
“Yes, there is inflation, but there is a lot more context than just Putin and Ukraine. We had a global pandemic 2 years ago that sent the economy down the toilet and are still recovering. The natural gas and oil companies have been posting record profits — this isn’t a Ukraine thing, it is pure price gouging,” Warshauer said in an interview.
Warshauer also explained how the issue of foreign policy regarding the war has remained favorable across party lines in the general population, after what he describes as close to two decades of deepening rifts between Republicans and Democrats in Congress. Warshauer believes this is partially due to Russia’s actions in the past 10 years, including the annexation of Crimea, as well as the anti-Soviet environment many older Americans grew up in during the Cold War.
“For the baby boomers, the Gen X, we were living through the Cold War. We believed what Reagan said in a speech, of the Soviet Union and Russia as ‘the evil empire’. And for the younger generations who grew up in the wake of the failures in Iraq and Afghanistan, this war was initially viewed with skepticism but now there is also support from them,” Warshauer said.
For Halloween, Warshauer created a large display in front of his home depicting the invasion, including a model tank, according to CT Insider. Warshauer is known in his home town of West Hartford for his elaborate, often political or historically based, decorations.
UConn students, including those of Ukrainian descent, have been concerned about the Russian invasion. Many, including Hlib Konberh, a first-semester chemical engineering major and international student from Ukraine, still have relatives in the country, from areas currently occupied or on the front lines of the war.
“I was in Kyiv on the 22 and 23rd of February, even when we heard of the 200,000 Russians on the border we thought it was a bluff. Nobody would be stupid enough to start a war in Europe in the 21st century. Then around 4:30 in the morning my mother woke me up and told me we were at war. I didn’t believe her until I turned on the television and saw the reports,” Konberh said.
Konberh is from Dnipro, a city in eastern Ukraine close to the Donbas region, where Russian-backed separatists have fought Ukraine since 2014. Hlib was 10 years old when Russia annexed Crimea and backed the separatists. His family lived in an apartment along one of the city’s main roads, and were forced to stay indoors in the first few days of the invasion, as Russian soldiers fought Ukrainians only a few miles from the city center.
“Things are better than the first few days, but so many cities are destroyed. Irpin and Bucha were two suburbs that got completely devastated,” Konberh said. “In Kharkiv, the second biggest city, half the city is in ruins from the Russian artillery. Mariupol was destroyed after the Russians invaded. I’ve been to the city, I have friends there. They all managed to escape, but they have nothing to go back to.”
Konberh’s family has fled to Poland, and he said he is able to stay in contact with them. He said he believes Ukraine will win this war and hopes for it to end soon, so that no more Ukrainians need to die.