The first thing I noticed during my latest trip to Washington, DC., back from Kyiv, is that unlike the last time, when I was delighted by the dozens of Ukrainian flags hung outside of Americans’ businesses and homes, I have only noticed one so far. People no longer strike up conversations when they notice my US-Ukraine lapel pin, and American news no longer leads with Ukraine.

 

Now, a majority of Republicans oppose further assistance to Ukraine.

 

What went wrong?

 

The key rule that Kyiv broke was that it did not play by the rules of Washington’s game. Specifically, the Ukrainians did not hire a lobbyist.

 

“Ukraine needs to make the case, to normal Americans, why Ukraine matters to America,” said one person with more than 40 years of experience working in the US Congress.

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“Ukrainian delegations come to Washington, DC, give talks at the Atlantic Council, Wilson Center, or National Endowment for Democracy, which is just flushing money down the toilet,” he continued.

 

He suggested that “Ukrainians visiting the US need to be going to Ohio, not DC, where the leaders there [like Senator JD Vance] oppose Ukraine. Ohio has a massive population of ethnic Ukrainians and Poles. It also produces Abrams Tanks. Go there and say, ‘We are not here for anything other than to say “thank you, America,”’ and explain how supporting Ukrainians creates jobs in Ohio.”

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Some reports had suggested the outspoken supporter of the Kremlin’s takeover of east Ukraine had died at the hands of Kyiv assassins, or maybe even in a local mobster contract hit.

 

He also insisted that the visiting Ukrainian delegations should explain how people of Ohio would not need to die fighting Russia. They should say, “Ukraine is already making those sacrifices, and we thank our partners for their support.” 

 

This, normally, would then be repeated with digital and TV ads, in specific “toss-up” congressional districts, along with interviews, so that the “average Joe” takes the Ukraine cause to be his cause, too.

 

These sorts of campaigns, explained one lobbyist, are meant to show how Ukraine’s interests overlap with America’s interests: We are on the same team.

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“Can you imagine,” the veteran lobbyist asked, “how much it would connect with blue-collar Americans if Wladimir Klitschko were to show up at a UFC fight in a toss-up state, along with the local congressman, and say, ‘Ukrainians know how to fight. Today we are fighting for our country: Thank you for being in the fight with us.’?”

 

A natural ally of Ukraine, which has never been tapped into, is America’s military industrial complex. Nearly half of all discretionary spending in the US – that is, for “optional” things that can be cut, unlike social security or welfare, which people are legally entitled to – goes to the military.

 

Ukraine should seek out the defense lobbyists and “get them on board” to team up and make the case that arming Ukraine is good for America, not only Ukraine.

 

Thus far, Ukraine has missed “a lot of opportunities,” and there is no guarantee that it will pull through.

 

However, for Ukraine, which has received more than half of all military support from the US, there is no option but to urgently try new approaches to reach out to Americans, across the US – not only in Washington, DC.

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The views expressed in this opinion article are the author’s and not necessarily those of Kyiv Post.

 

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Comments (9)

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Joseph Swanson
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Seems these republicans suffer from narcissistic personality disorder and russophilia.

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John
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It’s a moral failure that the onus these days is on the ones being illegally invaded, bombed, tortured and pillaged; to lobby on why it’s to our benefit that we help them. It’s a shame that some western media would rather feature a lie spewing ex president, then cast the light on the evil’s being committed daily by Putin’s thug regime. It's a shame that our freedom of speech and benevolent innovations (like the internet) are abused by authoritarian state sponsored propaganda mechanisms (trolls, cybercriminals), only to make us doubt the many benefits of our democracies. If we give into this, only chaos will ensue.

For me this latest Russian initiated war presents a pretty clear cut case of right and wrong. Thwarting criminals is always to humanity's greater benefit. I don’t need to be further persuaded to help Ukraine. They share my democratic values, they need my help. I’ve adjusted my spending habits to not buy from countries who’s principles’ I do not share, nor purchase things that I do not truly need. It’s freed up funds to put toward good causes like supporting Ukraine. My happiness these days seems to mostly stem from the good I can do with what I have.

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Philip Tummarello
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I think this article is vastly overstated. The problem in America is that Biden is viewed as remarkably corrupt and an embarrassment to the United States. Everything associated with him is suspected of furthering the hundreds of millions of dollars channeled to his family through foreign governments. I just made a presentation on Ukraine during my recent four-month stay there. The interest levels in the Ukrainian people and situation are very high and supportive generally.
Donations to charitable Church organizations flowed.

Ukraine doesn't need a "lobbyist" at all. What Ukraine has always needed are allies willing to provide her with the supplies and instruments she asks for when she asks for them, regardless of putin's idle threats. It has finally dawned on the west, these delays in the delivery of assistance help putin and injure Ukrainian heroes. Geroyam Slava!!

Having Biden as the source of enthusiasm for Ukrainian support is most unfortunate for Ukrainians. The German and French dancers to the strings pulled by XI are not helpful. Germany and France still have very active large business operations to this day in russia.

Regardless, the greatness of the Ukrainian people and their historical tenacity, courage, and valor are fairly well-known and respected by most Americans. Yes, russian propaganda makes that more difficult but no one believes anything russia says to begin with. Slava Ukraini!

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David
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Ukraine has massively failed to make relatively straightforward and self evident case for continued massive American investment in comparatively low cost and casualty free destruction of the Russian Army’s combat potential.
That already allows stronger focus on China, at almost no additional defence budget and manpower
Since mostly used, surplus or phased out equipment was supplied, that makes room for overdue but inevitable and now highly timely re-investment in next generation replacements. The artificially high assigned costs of used equipment delivered to Ukraine is not perceived in this light by the general population.
Thanks to Ukraine overdue reinvestment in realistic munitions production capacity has.begun in America, although it will take 2 years to crank up to realistic wartime consumption levels. Particularly in the case of Himars and other long ran=nge weapons, would have strong relevance in the Pacific.
In short, apart from massive intelligence gains, and better understanding of advanced drone warfare limitations, enemy equipment weaknesses, etc, this war, although highly regrettable due to lost Ukrainian lives, provides America the necessary gym workout to be more relevant and confident in the Pacific .
Overall the US defence budget has not changed by more than a couple of percent to handle overdue reinvestments, and Europe / NATO have also stepped up thanks mainly to this war, and not Tumps

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Makuye
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And now you BEGIN to see, Jason et alia, the effectiveness of the long-term active russian "information management", falsehood, psychological operations, and blackmail/behavioral coercion war.
While no one desires to be seen as russian useful idiot, near 1/2, as far as can be discerned, convinced that their perceptions are not managed, make decisions led to by russian management.Trump was one, a very successful target, because he has millions of unthinking submissives, as well as those who believe their fortunes lie within also abandoning individual integrity to make coalition for "america first, even as russia increasingly violates not only NATO nations, but has convinced others, like Hungary and its Orban, that advantage exists through defection.
It shocked you that venality has taken over the USA recently, when it had been successfully promoted by SEVEN years ago, through quite unsubtle social manipulation.

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JR
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Most importantly, U.S. is providing Dollars to Ukraine. Dollars ultimately return to the USA and stimulate our jobs. Material we send to Ukraine was mostly produced by US workers and supports jobs, and not just tank builders.
Bottom line support for Ukraine is also support for the good ol USA. That news need to be spread.

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1776Enjoyer
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Spot on. Ukrainian PR has only courted the Left in America.

You will not persuade Republicans using the words "climate change" or flying or highlighting perceived progressive/leftist ideologies like the Pride flag in relation to Ukraine EU trajectory.

This is going to make some people mad on here, but this is how it is if you talk to most anti-Ukraine republicans.

In their minds, wrong or not, men masquerading as women gr00ming children, is more important to them than the world stage. If you equate Ukraine with Pride, they will begin to think of Ukraine as Epstein's island. Even though they fail to realize a comparable portion of Ukrainians are as conservative as they are.

As much as I despise the man, all you have to say is "Donald Trump was right about EU NATO spending and that he was wrong to be laughed at when he told EU countries to quit relying on Russian gas."

Luckily, I'm not so fickle. Ukraine has the right to self-determination even if that means being progressives. I'd rather them fly a rainbow flag than sit in gulags being told how to think or perish. They have the right to not be erased because Putin лох wanted minerals under Donbas and to grow his soviet empire. They are a strong people that shouldn't have needed to, but have proven their worth like our ancestors in 1776. I can only respect their declaration of independence.

Makuye
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Here we have an example of russian success at creation of internecine dispute, assisting it in overcoming a nation originally far stronger.

1776Enjoyer
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The left just so happens to be right about foreign policy this time around. But I still remember when Obama's folks laughed at Mitt Romney for saying the Russians were a geopolitical foe. We all fall for propaganda. We are to blame more than the Russians. Once we can truly internalize that, we'll stop falling for it.

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Res
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@1776Enjoyer,

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rhoneyman
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The Republican majority in the US House of Representatives has been hijacked by xenophobic, racist, antisemitic fascists. With the impending government shutdown, it is ever more likely the House will again flip back to the Democrats next year. In the meantime, the majority leadership in the US House makes Putin look competent.

Support for Ukraine remains strong even in Michigan and Ohio.

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Andrew Lockett
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Another irony at play is that the less chance the Russians succeed in advancing towards key ( and very newsworthy ) Ukrainian cities like Kyiv and Kharkiv, the less Ukraine becomes important to the daily consciousness of citizens of important western allies countries. Even though missiles and drones still affect many cities, successful Ukrainian AD systems and beefed up border defences ensure that life for the majority of people has resumed to some semblance of normality, especially in Kyiv, Kharkiv and Lviv. Consequently, it may even take some repetition of the earlier days of the russcists invasion for a lot of people to actually begin caring about the outcome of the Ukrainian state again. In this overwrought modern obsession with the 24 hour news cycle, those disasters and tragedies such as Morocco and Libya quickly fade into obscurity only weeks after. Ukraine's never ending plight at the hands of the Russian war of attrition is inevitably falling into this category, as many people require a constant drip feed of large scale tragedy to keep such vital world events front of mind. 🇺🇦

Makuye
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@Andrew Lockett, You are looking solely at the victims of the successful russian divisive propaganda, rather than the source.
Should i successfully appeal to your self-pity, however wealthy you may be, you are mine to motivate through whatever bias with which you arouse yourself.
This strategy exists in 60 year-old russian psyops, and was preceded since early century by bolshevik thinkers, Lenin in particular.

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