By Timothy Hopper
The Ukraine war, which was preceded by the United States’ provocative warnings, has had different positive and negative consequences for the US, both domestically and internationally. Domestically, the political parties’ race for the upcoming midterm congressional elections in November has been significantly affected by the Ukraine crisis. Both Democratic and Republican candidates are trying to use the crisis as leverage to lambaste the opposing party.
According to census estimates, there were 1,009,874 Americans of Ukrainian origin in 2019, accounting for about 0.3 percent of the total population of the United States. They all have family or relatives in Ukraine. Despite their small number of votes, Ukrainian Americans can have a significant impact on the upcoming elections as they mostly live in key eastern states such as Pennsylvania and Ohio. Therefore, candidates from both parties make all kinds of anti-Russian promises to woo these voters.
The Democratic Party’s efforts in this regard have been more successful than its Republican rival. A case in point is the six Republican congressmen’s controversial and questionable vote against the collection of evidence related to the possible commission of a war crime by Russian forces in Ukraine. Whatever the motive, in the current anti-Russian atmosphere in the media and in American society, this incident has been a severe blow to the credibility of the Republican Party and instead gained more popularity for the Democratic Party.
Also, some Republican lawmakers’ remarks show that they are not only completely unfamiliar with international politics but are also unaware of their constituents’ concerns. Their election campaigns have further angered public opinion and Democratic candidates are using it to win more votes.
For example, some Republican members of Congress did not see the Ukraine crisis as essentially a US issue and called for more focus on other issues. Some of them have even gone so far as to hold Ukrainian President Zelensky responsible for starting and continuing the war and called him a criminal. Nonetheless, Republicans have not sat still as they are attempting to fight back by spotlighting Joe Biden’s son’s dealings with Ukraine and the potential ensuing conflict of interest. Although some of these politicians later implicitly withdrew their statements, one can clearly see the division among the American political elite and the impact of international politics on the country’s domestic issues.
In fact, in recent years, politics in the United States has become so vulnerable that it is easily affected by foreign affairs. Also, political and electoral disputes have become so mean that politicians are only obsessed with promoting themselves and their party and concerns hardly revolve around the actual interests of the American people.
Besides all these developments, Russia’s direct and indirect influence on American politicians, policies, and public opinion is apparent as in the 2016 elections. As a result, while some believe that the United States leads the world and shapes global public opinion, it is in fact under the influence of some unimaginable sources. The influence of various alternative views on the mainstream as well as foreign financial resources is so considerable that even Russia can impact the legislative process and change its macro-policies.
Russia, as one of the most serious challengers of the US-led international order, has also experienced serious blows to its military and economic power during the Ukraine war. This has left the global and European energy market in turmoil and can only be soothed through the increase in US gas exports. This means that while European people will suffer, American oil companies will gain huge profits.
Interestingly, as soon as Russia started threatening Ukraine, the United States almost doubled its gas exports to Europe to 6.5 billion cubic feet per day in just three months. It is noteworthy that until 2016, the United States was nowhere near the top producers and exporters of LNG. However, with extensive investments in this industry in just six years, the United States is now one of the largest exporters of this type of energy. The increase in LNG exports not only has had huge economic benefits for the United States but also has weakened Russia’s energy leverage over Europe as the continent’s largest importers are boycotting Russian gas. Further secession of European countries from Russia as a strategic tool in foreign policy gives the United States more maneuvering power against Moscow.
In case sanctions continue and European countries find an alternative to the Russian energy the fate of Nord Stream 2 with billions of dollars of investment will be up in the air. Russia had counted on the revenues of this project for at least the next half century but exports will be reduced by two-thirds by the end of this year and if the Ukraine crisis goes on Moscow will forfeit its advantages as an energy provider to its competitors such as the United States and Qatar.
Timothy Hopper is an international relations graduate of American University. I am writing to submit a piece on EU-China relations and the Ukraine war.