The leading Republican Congressional leader and Speaker of the House, Congressman Kevin McCarthy, yesterday strongly rejected a false claim put to him by a little-known Russian journalist - and reaffirmed his support for Ukraine.
During a news conference at the Knesset in Jerusalem on May 1, McCarthy was asked the following by a male who identified himself as ‘Vyacheslav Tartakovsky of RIA Novosti’, a Russian state-owned media outlet: “We know you don’t support [Editor’s underline] the current and unlimited supplies of weaponry and aid to Ukraine. So, can you comment, is it possible if in the near future the US policy regarding sending weaponry to Ukraine will change?”
While seemingly taken aback at first by the question and its misrepresentation of his publicly stated position, McCarthy quickly gathered and replied.
📹Speaker of the US House of Representatives Kevin McCarthy categorically responded to the false statement of a Russian journalist. pic.twitter.com/WWhSg0gOTZ— KyivPost (@KyivPost) May 2, 2023
“No, I vote for aid to Ukraine. I support aid for Ukraine. I do not support what your country has done to Ukraine,” McCarthy firmly and directly said.
“I do not support your killing of the children either. And, I think from one standpoint, you should pull out,” he continued in his reply.
“And, I don’t think it’s right and we will continue to support because the rest of the world sees [the invasion] just as it is,” McCarthy added in shutting the Russian media representative down.
An initial online search by Kyiv Post for the professional background and media affiliation of ‘Vyacheslav Tartakovsky’ could not establish whether he is either a staff member or freelancer for RIA Novosti. The search yielded one article under Vicheslav Tartakovsky in 2012 for Russian defence industry publication, Military Arms (‘Voyenoe Ozbozroenoe’), about Israeli armaments. It may be the case that Tartakovsky is an Israeli-based freelancer.
On Feb. 26, 2022, two days after the start of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, RIA Novosti published an article titled "The Arrival of Russia and the New World" ("Наступление России и нового мира"). It announced that Russia had won the war against Ukraine, applauded Vladimir Putin, and declared that “Ukraine has returned to Russia”. Deleted soon afterwards, it appeared that the piece was prepared in advance of Russia’s invasion.
RIA Novosti, which is part of the Russia Today (or RT) media conglomerate, has been continuously accused of participating or perpetuating fake news, including by the fact-checking agency, StopFake.
US domestic politics has recently featured a debate about aid to Ukraine. That includes the position of some Republicans, who are strongly aligned with former President Donald Trump or known as ‘MAGA Republicans’, who are calling for at least greater scrutiny and accountability for US aid to Ukraine.
As recently as March 2023, following a telephone call with President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine, McCarthy himself has said that there should be “no blank checks” for Ukraine.
"Let's be very clear about what I said: no blank checks, OK? " McCarthy told CNN at the time. “My point has always been, I won't provide a blank check for anything."
Some commentators see McCarthy’s position as a conciliatory gesture to MAGA Republicans who he struggled to secure the support of for his candidacy for the Speaker of the House.
As reported by Kyiv Post, two of the MAGA Republicans, Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Georgia) and Representative Mark Gaetz (R-Florida), have called for the end of American military aid to Ukraine.
“Under Republicans, not another penny will go to Ukraine,” Congresswoman Taylor Green said in November.
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) blames Ukraine for being invaded: "You see Ukraine just kept poking the bear, poking the bear, which is Russia, and Russia invaded. And the hard truth is ... there is no win for Ukraine here. Russia is being very successful in their invasion." pic.twitter.com/RVHeMzSJ2F— Heartland Signal (@HeartlandSignal) March 22, 2022
In March of last year, just a month into the full-scale invasion, she said: “You see Ukraine just kept poking the bear…which is Russia, and Russia invaded. And the hard truth is… there is no win for Ukraine here.
“Russia is being very successful in their invasion.”
Congressman Gaetz in February introduced a “Ukraine Fatigue Resolution” in the US House of Representatives that seeks to end “military financial aid to Ukraine.”
On his personal website, Gaetz stated on Feb. 9 that “we must suspend all foreign aid for the War in Ukraine and demand that all combatants in this conflict reach a peace agreement immediately.”
Analysts who monitor Russian disinformation have pointed out that Russian propaganda operations, which include Russian-owned media outlets, both feed and feed off fissures in American domestic politics about Ukraine.
“Russia doesn’t pull even its most outlandish narratives out of thin air – it builds on existing resentments and political fissures,” Jessica Brandt, a policy director at the Brookings Institution, recently said to the Guardian.
She added: “So you often have a sort of harmony – both Kremlin messengers and key media figures, each for their own reasons, have an interest in dinging the administration for its handling of the Ukraine crisis, in amplifying distrust of authoritative media.”
You can also highlight the text and press Ctrl + Enter