On October 11, the director of Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR), Sergei Naryshkin, stated that the issue of supporting Ukraine is taking on a divisive and contentious character in the United States. Naryshkin also predicted that these divisions would intensify in the lead-up to the upcoming U.S. presidential election.
In the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February of the previous year, the United States and the European Union have committed over $160 billion in aid to Ukraine, which includes substantial funding for weaponry. However, President Joe Biden expressed concerns last week that congressional turmoil could potentially hinder U.S. assistance to Ukraine. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has consistently warned about the risks of allowing Russia to emerge victorious in the ongoing conflict.
“It is becoming a bone of contention,” Naryshkin said, casting the struggle in Washington as one between those interested in improving the lives of Americans and those who were gripped with a hatred of Russians.
Diplomats and intelligence analysts have said for months that Putin is betting that American resolve over Ukraine will weaken as Washington faces different global crises and it becomes clear just how arduous a task it is to defeat hundreds of thousands of well-dug-in Russian soldiers in Ukraine.
Sergei Naryshkin made these observations during his visit to the Azerbaijani capital, Baku, noting that the “Ukrainian topic” is becoming increasingly contentious in the run-up to the forthcoming presidential election.
The recent removal of House of Representatives Speaker Kevin McCarthy by Republican lawmakers has raised concerns about the future of U.S. aid to Ukraine. The United States has also been consistently pressing Kyiv to intensify efforts to combat corruption, according to a report by CNN earlier this month.
Sergei Naryshkin, who has held the position of Russia’s foreign intelligence chief since October 2016, highlighted that McCarthy’s ouster reflects the “malignancy” of the Ukraine issue in the U.S. political landscape.
He mentioned that Moscow’s counter-terrorism cooperation with Western intelligence agencies remains ongoing, although the scale of such interactions has been reduced due to what he termed as the West’s “aggression” against Russia in the context of Ukraine.
Moscow presents its military activities in Ukraine as defensive measures against what it perceives as a hostile and aggressive Western stance. In contrast, Kyiv and its Western allies assert that Russia is engaging in an unprovoked war of aggression and territorial expansion, dismissing Moscow’s claims as absurd.