Alexander Vindman blames Ron Johnson for Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine

Alexander Vindman blames Ron Johnson for Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine
Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., Wikipedia

Retired United States Army Lieutenant Colonel and ex-national security aide Alexander Vindman believes that Republican Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin is “responsible more so than many of his colleagues for creating a situation in which the U.S. actually might find itself in a hot war” with Russia.

Johnson had appeared on Fox News last week to accuse President Joe Biden and congressional Democrats of using Ukraine as a “pawn” to impeach then-President Donald Trump (for the first time), which he claimed weakened Ukraine. Recall that Trump was busted trying to extort dirt on Biden by withholding aid to Ukraine.

"I don't think Vladimir Putin would have moved on Ukraine were it not for the weakness displayed ― certainly by the Biden administration, but by the West in general," Johnson said in the interview. "I'm certainly hoping that Col. Vindman, Adam Schiff, Nancy Pelosi ― who used Ukraine as a pawn in their impeachment travesty ― are also recognizing and reflecting about how they weakened Ukraine, weakened the West, weakened America by the divisive politics that they play. There's much blame to go around, but in terms of atrocities, that falls squarely on the shoulders of Vladimir Putin and his cronies.”

A statement released subsequently from Johnson’s office doubled-down on this, asserting that Vindman, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) and Congressman Adam Schiff (D-California) “weakened Ukraine by harming its relationship with the U.S. and therefore made Ukraine more vulnerable to Russian aggression, destabilization efforts, and ultimately invasion.”

Johnson’s office added that "Vindman’s actions demonstrated disloyalty to both the U.S. President he served [Trump] and the Ukrainian people we were trying to help.”

Vindman, however, maintains that Johnson’s take is an egregious distortion of the facts.

In an interview with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel published on Monday, Vindman said that Johnson and other individuals who worked in Trump’s administration have “blood on their hands” as Putin conducts an unprovoked, genocidal war against Ukraine.

"Civilians are dying, Ukrainians are providing a formidable defense, defending democracy for Americans as well as for themselves and their homes. And Ron Johnson is trying to distract and obfuscate," Vindman, a Ukrainian native, said.

Johnson, Vindman continued, has been a particularly “huge disappointment” on Ukraine. "He's responsible more so than many of his colleagues for creating a situation in which the U.S. actually might find itself in a hot war," Vindman said.

The strain in the relationship between Johnson and Vindman began during a joint trip to Kyiv in 2019 for the inauguration of then-Ukrainian President-Elect Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

"I tried to make him feel at home, make him feel welcome," Vindman said of Zelenskyy.

Johnson “was pretty aggressive in providing support for Ukraine in arming the Ukrainians, giving this new president everything you need to resist Russian coercion at that point, Russian aggression in a war that had been unfolding for the preceding five years," Vindman recalled.

The problem, however, was that Vindman was a representative of Trump, who was "not necessarily supportive of such a forward-leaning approach,” Vindman told Johnson.

"This was a very awkward position to be in because I had to point this out to the senator," Vindman said. "That I also don't agree with the policy. But I have to carry the water of the president. The president was already kind of testing the waters on withholding security assistance."

Vindman added that he “wanted him (Johnson) to understand that while he might feel strongly about this and that it's the right thing to do, the chief executive might not be on board,” and that Johnson “gave me this quizzical look, like I was a crazy person, like I was the one that was out of step.”

Johnson, meanwhile, has insisted that Vindman’s "assertions are completely false.” He also questioned whether Vindman "accurately stated the NSC's position, whether President Trump shared that viewpoint, or whether Vindman was really expressing his own view."

In fact, Johnson went so far as to accuse Vindman and others, including Pelosi and Schiff, “have never accepted President Trump as legitimate and resent his unorthodox style and his intrusion onto their 'turf.' They react by leaking to the press and participating in the ongoing effort to sabotage his policies and, if possible, remove him from office. It is entirely possible that Vindman fits this profile."

He offered no evidence to support this allegation, and Vindman now believes that Johnson was attempting to discredit his testimony as the first witness in Trump’s impeachment trial.

Johnson, Vindman said, "scurried back to his comfort zone, which is how a political creature, a political animal that saw his political survival in pandering to Donald Trump."

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