Russian state media is following the midterm elections in the United States with great interest, but the mood in Moscow’s studios had noticeably soured in comparison to the fun-filled episodes of the years preceding Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. While the experts and the hosts are still rooting for the Republicans, they stop short of promising the audience total salvation even with the GOP back in charge. Even the most seasoned propagandists can’t hide the fact that Russia’s war against Ukraine—and the global fallout that followed—is only going from bad to worse.
Appearing on the state TV show 60 Minutes on Tuesday, Dmitry Abzalov, Director of the Center for Strategic Communications, noted: “Of course we depend on the U.S. elections. Anyone who is doubting that should take a look at today’s dominating news topics. Every field commander is reporting that they’re plugged into American elections, planning to watch them at night. Why would they need to watch if everything was decided over here?”
Even former President Donald Trump’s anticipated reemergence on the political scene did little to cheer up Putin’s mouthpieces. During Sunday’s broadcast of the show, Sunday Evening With Vladimir Solovyov, the top pro-Kremlin propagandist Vladimir Solovyov described a video clip of Trump’s diatribe against President Joe Biden as the opinion of a “smart person who openly says everything that many Americans are thinking.”
Andrey Sidorov, deputy dean of world politics at the Moscow State University, bitterly complained about the Biden administration trying to force Russia to negotiate with Ukraine. The host and the panelists recoiled, questioning what would be the point of negotiations. Sidorov explained that the U.S. wanted Russia to retreat from the territories it occupies in Ukraine. Solovyov incredulously asked: “Retreat where?” Head of RT Margarita Simonyan blurted out: “To Siberia.”
The topic of retreating touched a nerve, since the Russian troops are rapidly losing Ukrainian ground to the Ukrainian army. To negotiate at this point would mean to cement their losses and acknowledge Russia’s defeat. Sidorov proceeded to focus on America: “You’ve just shown Trump. Of course, I am a big aficionado of this former president. I even love his colors, the colors of the Republican party.” Sidorov recounted Trump’s dealings with the Jan. 6 Committee and added that they will be ratcheting up their pressure. Solovyov interrupted, “Lordy, so let them pressure him. Let them get married to each other, cut each other up or kill one another.”
Sidorov clarified: “We couldn’t care less how they feel about each other, but Trump generates a lot of hatred in America’s society. From my standpoint, the more they hate each other, the better it is for us.” He distilled the main talking point that emerged on multiple state TV shows: regardless of the party that may come to power in the United States, Russia is in dire straits in Ukraine. The best course of action proposed by the state TV experts was to stoke the divisions in the U.S. in hopes of placing the continued aid to Ukraine in peril.
During Monday’s broadcast of the state TV show 60 Minutes, Sergei Luzyanin, professor at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations under the Russian Foreign Ministry, complained of the bipartisan “Russophobic consensus” in the U.S. Congress and Senate. Luzyanin said, “A potential victory of the Republicans in the Congress and perhaps in the Senate, will mark the beginning of a political Halloween.” He predicted that in the next two years, Republicans will pursue a multitude of legal disagreements, court cases and impeachments, all of which will lead to exacerbating the already existing societal divisions and conflicts among the elites.
Luzyanin predicted: “After the midterm elections, we’ll see a glass jar full of poisonous American spiders, tearing each other up. Go ahead and eat one another! It will be a frightening political process... It may also lead to tactical or strategic changes in their foreign policy... Get lots of popcorn and let’s watch.”
Host Olga Skabeeva noted that she would prefer to rely on Russia’s own might, instead of hoping that its enemies will decimate one another: “We keep hoping it happens, but they’re yet to destroy each other.”
Political scientist Vladimir Kornilov explained that Republicans would turn Biden into a lame duck, blocking his defense budgets, among other things—which would negatively impact U.S. aid to Ukraine and therefore help Russia. He added: “With respect to driving in the wedge, we should certainly try to destabilize the situation in the United States of America... as well as their allies.”
To cheer up the viewers, a clip of Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) promising last Thursday that “not another penny will go to Ukraine,” was repeatedly played throughout the show. Military expert Mikhail Khodaryonok, a retired Russian army colonel, couldn’t hide his irritation, as he noted: “Let’s not pay attention to the shrieks of certain marginalized representatives of Trump’s wing. Broadly speaking, they don’t represent the moods within the Republican party. Military aid to Ukraine will continue.”
Skabeeva concurred: “The situation won’t change for the better and we have to rely solely upon ourselves, on the Russian army. Republicans can’t help us to hold on to Kherson.” Later in the show, she added, “There aren’t many chances that the magnitude of the funding will change, but an everyday Russian keeps on hoping and believing. They’ve never followed the midterm elections so closely... We trust and believe in the Republicans. Do we even have any other allies?”