Explainer Beat: War in Ukraine becomes midterm issue, impacts echo at the University of Connecticut

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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. 

2 COMMENTS

  1. I ask everyone to carefully consider my column Yahoo! put up on both News and Finance, “Lou Coatney: Russia now left with no choice but nuclear war.” Also, I have a white paper on LinkedIn listing Biden&Blinken’s 9 motives for wanting and getting the Ukraine War as well as the 4 obvious reasons Kyiv 2014 (during Obama&Biden) was a coup – not a legitimate popular revolution – and the real start of the war, at https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/bidenblinkens-war-crime-ukraine-begetting-holocaust-facts-lou-coatney/.
    In 1983, when there was a pro-Soviet coup on Grenada within our inner security perimeter, we certainly counter-moved grabbing the island. Worse, just last year President Moise of Haiti who had been warming up to China hoping to get support to stop the anarchy and covid was then assassinated by Colombian mercenaries of the kind who have served us before.
    I’m not Catholic, but Pope Francis was absolutely right saying – and absolutely right to say – that the Ukraine War was provoked and it could have been prevented … although he left it obvious that the fault was and is ours. (Again, please consider my white paper.)
    I think Donald Trump should do at least a little prison time for Jan. 6, but the Russians trusted him, and this war NEVER would have happened.
    But note that it was *Trump* who got the first load of crucial Javelin antitank missiles to the Ukrainians *before* the war and had our Army training them in the “Mission Command” doctrine of junior officer initiative with which they just ran circles around the conservative by-the-book Russian Army.

    As to Mike Pence, he stabbed Trump in the back during the vice president debate, not calling Kamala Harris down for lying about there being a “Russian bounty” on American soldiers in Afghanistan, which our Pentagon had checked and firmly denied. If he *had* called her out for lying to win (the debate) like that, it would have shown her to be someone we would never want a late-70s heartbeat away from the Oval Office.
    And Mitch McConnell has indisputably been the worst wimp of an “opposition leader” in Congress’ history.
    I was a Cold Warrior – you can read my thesis about the 1940 Katyn Massacre as a Cold War issue on ibiblio – and in 1992 we (including the Russians) were all so happy it was over, but we still have Cold War mentalities dangerously in power both in Congress and again in the White House.

    The Ukraine War has caused the inflation devastating the economy of the rest of the world even worse than ours – for which the world is angry at us and not signing on to condemning Russia – and it has us in grave danger of nuclear holocaust destroying the West and us and our loved ones. It is indeed the central issue of the midterm election, although our pro-war media have done everything possible to distract from that.

    (By contrast, good job, UConn Daily Campus!)

    The best analogy for the war I have seen is fools arguing over deck chairs on our sinking Titanic (environment), and a report has just come out that greenhouse gasses are skyrocketing because of the return to fossil fuels caused by the war.

    Lemming Fever!

    Lou Coatney, retired American librarian over here in Norway for my younger, Norwegian-American children

  2. An important point in the Daily Campus article needs to be addressed: whether or not the inflation is being caused by the war, as Warschauer tried to deny. And to confirm that it indeed is, we have nothing less than one of President Joe Biden’s own classic truth-gaffes 🙂 :
    CNN 10Mar22: “Biden suggests Putin and Russia’s war in Ukraine responsible for soaring inflation in new report,” at https://edition.cnn.com/2022/03/10/politics/biden-inflation-consumer-price-index/index.html
    … except, of course, the war is as much Biden&Blinken’s as Putin’s, if not moreso as I have described above.

    He also gaffed early in the war that The New World Order was coming, which the non-Western world instead immediately interpreted as a return to U.S. and Western hegemony and neo-colonialism … even while Pacific nations are being submerged by the rising ocean.

    Something else as well: to the credit of AOC (Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez) and 30 of her Democrat progressives, in apparent response to intense flak about the war they are getting back in their districts from constituents/voters, they sent a letter opposing the war to the White House. The establishment Democrat party machine ruthlessly slapped them down for it to the extent they had to withdraw their letter.

    Thus, any vote for any Democrat – especially an establishment party machine Democrat – is a vote for continuing to escalate the war on into nuclear holocaust (let alone economic meltdown in the meantime), as I also describe above. (This often doesn’t leave local voters much choice, since many bubba Republicans are no less war-war Neanderthals than the Democrats, although House minority leader Kevin McCarthy and senators Josh Hawley and Rand Paul do give hope.)

    Historical footnote, by the way: during the Vietnam War, the band Black Sabbath branded pro-war politicians “war-pigs” which became common usage.

    The times we live in are right now too interesting, Campus Daily, and we should all instead be “gung-ho.”
    (Historical footnote 2: That was the motto of Carlson’s Marine Raiders at Guadalcanal and in their other Pacific battles, but contrary to its meaning now of being mission-eager, Carlson was an old Marine China hand, and its meaning in Chinese for those trying to drag barges up-river against the current is “all together,” and we do desperately need to re-unite internationally to stop the terminal degradation of the environment (and Life) and deal with all the other, un-manufactured crises confronting humanity … while there may still be time.)

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