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As Russia attacks Ukraine, Trump blames war on Big Lie

Donald Trump wasn’t in a position to articulate the GOP’s position on Russia’s attack because the party doesn’t appear to have one.


It was last night in the United States when Russia’s Vladimir Putin delivered televised remarks, announcing his authorization of an attack on Ukraine. Just minutes later, the Russian military began a series of attacks against its neighbor, bombarding Ukraine from the air and on the ground.

The result, as NBC News noted, is one of Europe’s gravest security crises since World War II.

As the war got underway, Donald Trump appeared on Fox News to identify the real victim: himself.

“As an American, I am angry and saddened,” the former president said of the conflict. “It happened because of a rigged election.”

Yes, as a deadly international crisis unfolds, what really matters to the head of the Republican Party is his pitiful Big Lie.

In the same on-air appearance, he admonished his own country’s leaders — Trump condemned what he saw as the Biden administration’s “weakness and stupidity” — before suggesting that he believed U.S. troops were part of last night’s military offensive. It fell to Laura Ingraham to explain that it was Russians, not Americans, that had launched an amphibious attack.

It was curious to see Trump confuse the two.

To be sure, listening to the former president respond to these events was bewildering, but his petty incoherence was emblematic of a larger truth: Trump wasn’t in a position to articulate the Republican Party’s position on Russia’s attack because the Republican Party doesn’t appear to have one. As The Boston Globe’s James Pindell explained:

When it comes to the situation in Ukraine, President Biden is working with European allies to figure out how to best position themselves against Russian President Vladimir Putin. Meanwhile, Republicans trying to put together a response to this are all over the place, split between former president Donald Trump’s foreign policy and the one the GOP espoused in the year before his election as president.

Some Republican leaders are condemning Putin, other GOP leaders are complimenting him. Some in the party are describing the crisis in serious and sober tones, others in the GOP are explicitly saying they “don’t really care what happens to Ukraine one way or another.”

The Associated Press added, “The divergent responses to Europe’s most significant foreign policy crisis in generations reflects a divided — and rapidly changing — Republican Party. An old guard, largely centered in Washington, that has long warned of Russian aggression is confronting an ascendant generation of conservatives who openly question why the U.S. should care about Russia’s moves at all.”

An NBC News report also highlighted the intra-party fissures that point to “a growing divide in the Republican Party, between traditional foreign policy hawks who have advocated for a more confrontational U.S. posture to the Russian strongman and a Trump-aligned ‘MAGA’ faction that has expressed some sympathy for Putin’s tactics or described them as effective.”

GOP voices are united in their criticisms of the Biden White House, but for a party that used to look at foreign policy expertise as a foundational issue that defines Republican politics, it’s striking to see the GOP without an intelligible position in the midst of a global crisis.