Many populists, libertarians, and national conservatives dislike Ukraine. They tend to be hostile or indifferent, at best, toward the nation’s fate even as it frantically battles against Russian aggression.
There are a number of factors at play here, including a contrarian element. If America’s leftists support Ukraine, that is a good reason at least to be suspicious about their cause.
Most of the anti-Ukrainian animus stems from our own domestic politics and hopes, including mirror imaging, a misguided propensity to understand and explain Russia in American terms, and an attempt to grasp the unfamiliar with the aid of the familiar.
Then there are the old grudges against Ukraine. All of this is compounded by Russian propaganda and talking points that some Americans on the Right embrace almost reflexively.
The negative attitude of the national conservatives and populists toward Kyiv, in the first instance, is a function of their rather positive outlook on Moscow as a defender of Western Civilization and Vladimir Putin “the Katechon,” or liberator from the Satan of liberalism.
In this narrative, the master of the Kremlin has defeated the lifestyle revolution (a.k.a. “globohomo agenda”) and saved Russia from the nihilism, consumerism, and moral relativism that are ravaging the West. The Russian president thus holds the banner of tradition, decency, and patriotism aloft.
Next, there are specific American right-wing grievances against Ukraine. They originate from several sources.
To start, there is the Muscovite echo chamber. Since America’s legacy media are mendacious, the conviction goes, many on the Right defer to Russia Today and other force multipliers of the Russian propaganda for their information about all things Ukrainian.
Hence, national conservative and populist perceptions of Ukraine (or “the Ukraine,” as they say) tend to reflect those of the Kremlin. In this telling, Ukraine is not a “real” nation, never mind the millennial long history of the Kyivan state.
Further, western Ukrainian speakers are Roman Catholic “Nazis” who projected their foul ideology and language onto the eastern part of the country to oppress the Christian Orthodox Russian speakers. Never mind that western Ukrainians are actually Uniates, or Orthodox Christians who recognize the Pope. Their real crime, according to the Kremlin, is that they are in communion with Rome.
Also, Ukrainian nationalism is often Russian-speaking. It is the eastern Ukrainians, communicating in a hybrid Surzhyk and Russian, who have borne the brunt of Putin’s wrath in the current war.
What dooms Ukraine in our national conservative and populist eyes is the perception that it is a “neoconservative-cum-globalist” project. They believe the CIA overthrew a legitimate pro-Russian government in Kyiv twice: first in the Orange Revolution of 2004 and again in the Maidan Revolution of 2015.
The neoconservative democracy-building project is considered a cabal to enshrine the corrupt power of domestic Ukrainian oligarchs and George Soros and his ilk, as Matt Palumbo explains in The Man Behind the Curtain. Those forces, working through their “corrupt puppet” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, were behind the campaign to besmirch Donald Trump, which triggered his impeachment.
In addition to all of this is the U.S. national conservative and populist beef with the Bidens. Hunter Biden was up to his nose in corruption in Ukraine. And his father helped cover it up in collusion with U.S. legacy media.
In addition to Burisma, Hunter Biden operated with a San Francisco biotech firm to secure a generous Defense Department contract to test bio-compounds at a Ukrainian lab. It is no wonder the national conservatives often fall for Russian propaganda: There is always a grain of truth in every lie.
Ultimately, whatever the United States, the Bidens, Soros, and others have hoped to accomplish is one story. The fact that most grassroots participants in both the Orange and the Maidan upheavals were Ukrainian nationalists outraged at the crippling corruption of their elites and the colonial dependency of their country on the Russian Federation is another story.
With respect to social and cultural questions, the average Ukrainian is not that much different from the average Donald Trump supporter in the United States. The Ukrainian attitudes toward practically all hot-button items, including the lifestyle revolution, irreligiosity, wokeness, and so forth, would not pass muster with our politically correct commissariat.
It is time for the national conservatives and Trumpian populists to emerge from the Kremlin-dug rabbit hole and see Ukraine for what it really is. Under the veneer of its corrupt oligarchic elite, it is nationalist, conservative, and populist through and through. One should realize that reality.