If Putin Can Hang On Til January

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during his address to the nation at the Kremlin in Moscow on February 21, 2022. - President Vladimir Putin said on February 21, 2022, he would make a decision "today" on recogn... Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during his address to the nation at the Kremlin in Moscow on February 21, 2022. - President Vladimir Putin said on February 21, 2022, he would make a decision "today" on recognising the independence of east Ukraine's rebel republics, after Russia's top officials made impassioned speeches in favour of the move. (Photo by Alexey NIKOLSKY / Sputnik / AFP) (Photo by ALEXEY NIKOLSKY/Sputnik/AFP via Getty Images) MORE LESS

Russia’s military situation in Ukraine has become so dire in recent weeks that, as you know, there’s been increasing discussion of whether President Putin might resort to the use of nuclear weapons to stabilize it or overawe Ukraine’s western allies into discontinuing aid. We think, rightly, about how terrifying this prospect is. But we shouldn’t forget that it is also a gauge of just how bad Russia is doing in conventional terms. But Putin may get relief if he’s able to hold on until January when a Republican House would block any more military aid to Ukraine.

That is what Kevin McCarthy is now signaling.

McCarthy won’t express actual opposition to Ukraine’s war effort or explicit support for Russia. He’s framing it as needing to spend money on all the domestic priorities President Biden has allegedly ignored. But he’s clearly speaking for House Republicans who really do see Russia as an ideological ally in the global conflict between civic democracy and authoritarianism. This is what we have to look forward to next year.

The U.S. isn’t the only problem. Italy has a new far-right government. The UK, while to date a stalwart supporter of Ukraine, is on the verge of going into national receivership because of its interlocked economic and political crisis. Meanwhile, Europe is on the cusp of a winter in which the lack of Russian oil and gas may literally make it difficult for European countries to stay warm. These factors joined together could change the international equation for Ukraine early next year.

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