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Putin Wants You to Think He’s an Anti-Woke Crusader

This article was originally published on Foreign Policy.

As the 2024 U.S. presidential campaign grows closer, the war in Ukraine and Washington’s support for Kyiv stands to play a bigger role in the Republican primaries than foreign-policy issues normally do. While Republican candidates of the not-too-distant past portrayed Russia as an enemy, this time around the primaries will feature voices much more ambivalent about the war and U.S. military aid. These voices include those of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who referred to the war as a “territorial dispute” and not part of the United States’ “vital national interests,” and entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, who said that if elected he would “not give another dollar to Ukraine.” Former President Donald Trump, meanwhile, has refused to say who he thinks should prevail in the conflict. These statements, among others, suggest that Republican candidates are playing to a base that is increasingly skeptical of both the utility and the justice of the war effort.

New research indicates that support for Putin is higher among U.S. Christian nationalists, who feel that “liberal democracy is infringing on their religious beliefs,” Northeastern University religion and anthropology professor Sarah Riccardi-Swartz, part of the research team, said. 

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