Hours after Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky brought a rare joint session of the House and Senate to their feet in applause, Georgia Republican Marjorie Taylor Greene rejected his calls for support in a video replete with tropes from Russian propaganda.
Ms Greene, a first-term representative and alleged supporter of conspiracy theories such as QAnon, said she “weeps” at the “images of men, women and children” in Ukraine who’ve been wounded or killed by Russian attacks, but added that “cannot allow our compassion to blind us to reason and common sense” because a “potential war with Russia” cannot be compared with America’s most recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Continuing, Ms Greene launched into a litany of false statements about the current conflict and Mr Zelensky’s government.
First, she claimed Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine is part of an “eight-year long smouldering conflict in which peace agreements have repeatedly been violated for both sides”.
In reality, the “conflict” was launched in 2014 when Russian president Vladimir Putin ordered an unprovoked invasion of the Crimean Peninsula, which is recognised under international law as part of Ukraine’s sovereign territory. Mr Putin also fomented and backed separatist movements in the eastern half of Ukraine, in areas that now comprise the so-called “people’s republics” which he recognised to provide a pretext for the larger invasion he launched last month.
The Republican representative also claimed Ukraine is “a country in which [President] Joe Biden, [House Speaker] Nancy Pelosi, and [Utah Senator] Mitt Romney all have direct financial interests”.
None of what she said is accurate.
Similar Republican allegations against Mr Biden were the impetus behind Mr Trump’s attempted blackmail of Mr Zelensky in July 2019 — a scheme which led the House of Representatives to pass the first of two sets of articles of impeachment against him.
Mr Trump and other Republicans have frequently claimed — without evidence — that as Vice President in 2016, Mr Biden used the threat of withholding foreign aid to force Ukraine’s former president Petro Poroshenko, to fire a prosecutor who they say was investigating Mr Biden’s son Hunter, who briefly served on the board of a Ukrainian energy company, Burisma.
Ms Greene’s assertion that Ms Pelosi and Mr Romney also have a “financial interest” in Ukraine is based on a false social media post which claims both have children on the boards of energy companies operating in Ukraine, though Ms Pelosi’s son Paul Pelosi Jr once sat on the board of a US energy firm called Viscoli.
Mr Romney has five sons: Tagg, Matt, Josh, Craig and Ben Romney. None of them appear to have any business interests in Ukraine whatsoever.
Ms Greene further alleged that Mr Zelensky’s government “only exists because the Obama state department helped to overthrow the previous regime”. Like her claims regarding the children of Mr Biden, Ms Pelosi and Mr Romney, it has no basis in reality. But allegations that the US fomented the 2014 Maidan Revolution — which toppled the government of Russia-aligned Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych — are a staple of Russian propaganda, and were a significant part of Russian president Vladimir Putin’s justification for invading Ukraine.
In reality, the 2014 revolution was sparked by Mr Yanukovych’s decision to renege on plans to sign a political association and free trade agreement with the European Union in favour of aligning Ukraine with Russia’s Eurasian Economic Union.
Mr Yanukovych fled the country after security forces under his control killed and wounded protesters in Kyiv, leading to the Ukrainian parliament voting to remove him from office by a margin of 328-0.
One of Ms Greene’s Republican colleagues, Wyoming Representative Liz Cheney, called her out for claiming “both sides” were responsible for cease-fire violations in a tweet Thursday.
“Putin is targeting and slaughtering civilians in a brutal unprovoked war against Ukraine, a sovereign democratic nation,” Ms Cheney said. “Only the Kremlin and their useful idiots would call that ‘a conflict in which peace agreements have been violated by both sides.”
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