In echoes of the attempts by Russia’s President Putin to justify his invasion of Ukraine, US Presidential candidate, Vivek Ramaswamy, referred to Ukraine’s president as a “Nazi” and a “comedian in cargo pants” during the Republican candidates’ debate, which was televised live by NBC news on Wednesday.

The US Congress has approved around $113 billion in military and humanitarian support to Ukraine since Russia’s 2022 full-scale invasion. Ramaswamy was asked whether he was in favor of providing further US support to Ukraine, following Zelensky’s recent pleas. While several of the other Republican presidential candidates have said that they support such actions he said he was opposed to providing further assistance to Ukraine.

Asked why, he said that he and more and more Republicans are following his example and reject US involvement in Ukraine’s war. He then resorted into what many saw as an attack on Ukraine’s democracy as well as a vitriolic and unnecessary personal attack on its President.

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He said:

“Ukraine is not a paragon of democracy. This is a country that has banned 11 opposition parties. It has consolidated all media into one state TV media arm – that’s not democratic.

It has threatened not to hold elections this year unless the US forks over more money – that is not democratic.

It has celebrated a Nazi in its ranks, the comedian in cargo pants, a man called Zelensky… That is not democratic.”

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Ramaswamy’s insinuation that Zelensky is a Nazi comes despite the fact that the Ukrainian president is Jewish.

The Republican candidate went even further in justifying his position by saying:

“The regions of Ukraine that are occupied by Russia right now in the Donbas: Luhansk and Donetsk. These are Russian-speaking regions that have not even been part of Ukraine since 2014.

To frame this as some kind of battle between good versus evil, don’t buy it.”

Ramaswamy’s comments resulted in shocked reactions among the live audience in the debate venue, on the internet, in the mainstream and social media – where what the New York Times said was hundreds of stunned viewers, posted negative reactions to the candidate’s outburst, a typical response is shown below:

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The other candidates all spoke in favor of continued US aid to Kyiv, although South Carolina Senator, Tim Scott urged “a level of accountability” that “allows the American people to understand where the resources have gone.”

Nikki Haley, former South Carolina governor and former President Donald Trump’s ambassador to the United Nations, commenting on Ramaswamy’s statement, said “Putin and President Xi [Jinping] are salivating at the thought [of] someone like that becoming president.”

Several Jewish organizations strongly denounced Ramaswamy, calling his speech “beyond outrageous.”

Zelensky, who is Jewish, has expressed his solidarity with Israel, saying its war with Hamas in Gaza is furthering Russia’s aims by distracting the world from the ongoing war, and has reportedly sent an official request to the Israeli Prime Minister’s office asking to coordinate a visit. In 2021, Zelensky signed a law combating anti-Semitism.

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Shortly after the debate, Tricia McLaughlin who is both Ramaswamy’s wife and lead spokesperson tried to row back on her husband’s comments trying to say the “Nazi” reference was about the September visit to Canada when Zelensky had participated in the honoring of a 98-year-old Ukrainian Canadian WWII war veteran, Yaroslav Hunka, who had in fact served with German forces.

She then took a step back from the apology saying that taken out of context, Ramaswamy’s remarks could be easily misunderstood. “He was talking quickly and kind of oscillated in his words,” she said.

Ramaswamy has been an outspoken critic of Ukraine’s government and has long advocated a halt to US support for the country. Last month, he put forward a plan to end the war with Russia by ceding Ukrainian territory to Russia.

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Comments (7)

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dfowensby
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traitor

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David
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Twisted and invented fake narrative. This needs to be countered with a full page NY times advertisement, and a challenge to a public debate, mediated by respected independent fact checkers.

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James
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How did this man, with such a surname, ever made it to US.

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Klan
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As the undisputed defenders of democratic values, the United States and its Republicans in particular are putting the rest of the "free-thinking" world to shame. And how can it speak of plurality when there is nothing but liberal politicians in this country? Europe needed to free itself from this dubious "master thinker".

Reed
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@Klan, He has certainly voiced his opinion and support for a government that is of the Putin, for the Putin, and by the Putin and I don't think liberty and freedom are high on Putin's agenda.

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Lobo
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This Ramaswamy mega ASSHOLE should never ever hold office of any sort in the USA. This clown is totally a Putin butt buddy. It was shocking to hear someone that is running for President that actually thought most Americans would agree with him. This guy is the enemy of democracy and has no business running for anything. He should sit down and shut his lying mouth. What a disgrace he is to himself and anyone that would buy the total bull shit this enemy of democracy should hang their head in shame that they will carry for the rest of their lives.

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Shawn Foubert
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Our world system is not perfect, it is plagued with the self righteous as seen by this individual, of concern, in the article I am responding to. What Ukraine is going through is historical and will rewrite history. The mentality of regimes and dictatorships is coming to an end while equality and freethinking take precedence.

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Imokru2
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This guy has never been elected to anything by the American people. He is a rodeo clown, a glib talking snake oil salesman.
His big uninformed mouth can only take him so far. He has no chance of ever being the American President.
Ukrainians should be rooting for DeSantis or Haley.

Lobo
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@Imokru2, Wrong! People should be rooting for Biden not some fascist extremist from todays fascist republican party which has become the enemy of democracy and has been taken over by fascist evangelical theocracy supporters. You are correct that Ramaswamy is what you said he is but you are totally wrong suggesting the alternatives.

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Doug
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@Imokru2, Hasn't Haleys daughter described Zelensky as "Hitler"??...obviously her mother hasn't raised her properly or maybe the daughter us saying what her mother really thinks???.....any Republican win in 2024 POTUS election is going to be bad news for Ukraine and their eoic fight against tyrant Russia???....whatever happened to the Ronald Reagans and George Bush republicans ???

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