Russia hopes classified document scandal upends Biden, creates hurdle to more Ukraine funding

Russia’s state-owned news agency TASS is putting out the word that the discovery of classified documents in President Biden’s home and former office space means a weaker Biden presidency — one that may have trouble securing more money to arm Ukraine in its war with Russia.

One policy expert interviewed by TASS said that Biden’s standing in the eyes of the U.S. public would likely slip even as major U.S. media outlets work to defend him.

‘If there are any consequences for the president, they will be not so much legal as political. In other words, his reputation will suffer,’ said Andrey Kortunov, general director of the Russian International Affairs Council. ‘However, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and CNN tend to support Biden. Most likely they will throw their weight behind the Democratic Party in its attempts to play down this scandal.’

But Kortunov predicted Republicans would use the scandal to ‘tip the political scales in their favor against the Democrats,’ while another analyst seemed to welcome the idea of the GOP using the scandal as a basis to stop sending military aid to Ukraine.

Documents discovered in Biden’s former office and current home reportedly deal with intelligence matters related to Ukraine, Iran and the United Kingdom. Dmitry Suslov, deputy head of the Center for Comprehensive European and International Studies at the National Research University Higher School of Economics, seemed hopeful that the GOP would use that fact against Biden the next time he seeks billions in new aide to Ukraine.

‘It was none other than Biden who oversaw the Ukrainian track in the Obama administration,’ Suslov said. ‘The way I see it, the Republicans will not miss the chance to capitalize on this factor to the maximum extent to complicate the process of allocating more money for Ukraine.’

House Republicans have opposed the broad funding proposals put forward by the Biden administration and congressional Democrats. However, many have said they would continue to support Ukraine funding, although that funding might be in small chunks that are focused only on Ukraine’s direct military needs.

Another Russian expert, Andrey Koshkin, head of the political science department at the G.V. Plekhanov Russian University of Economics, said the scandal would likely weigh heavily on a president who is not popular among Americans.

‘Society is very unhappy with such a president,’ Koshkin said. ‘The loss of economic, social and domestic well-being is another factor on the debit side of his balance sheet.’

Rebekah Koffler — president of Doctrine & Strategy Consulting, a former DIA intelligence officer and the author of ‘Putin’s Playbook’ — said the point of the TASS story is likely to dishearten Ukraine and create new worries that the U.S. will be a less enthusiastic contributor to its defense effort.

‘That’s the primary target, but not the only target,’ Koffler said of Ukraine. ‘The second target is the U.S. audience, to influence our opinion. The Russians have very nuanced understanding of our politics. They want to weaken President Biden and undermine Americans’ support for his policies, especially on Ukraine.’

Koffler said 47% of Americans are wary of continued high levels of spending for Ukraine, and she said Russia is trying to take advantage of that split but running the English-only news story. 

‘They’re trying to sow more division and discourage the US from providing more help,’ she said.

Koffler said a third target is the international audience, which she said is part of a broader effort to show how divisive democracies can be.

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