On Steve Bannon's podcast, former GOP Rep. Dave Brat calls for Ukraine's surrender

Brat to Zelensky: “As a Christian brother, I would tell him, if you do not close on this deal, Kyiv, the other major cities, are going to be just devastated.” (Zelensky is Jewish.)

Appearing Tuesday with former Trump adviser Steve Bannon, former Rep. Dave Brat (R-VA) said that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who has stayed in the capital city of Kyiv to lead his country’s resistance against Russia’s invasion, should instead give in to Russia’s set of demands.

Brat also said “as a Christian brother, I would tell him” that if Russia’s offers are rejected, “Kyiv, the other major cities, are going to be just devastated.” (Zelensky is Jewish.)

Brat was first elected to the House in 2014, riding a wave of support from right-wing talk radio to win an upset victory in the Republican primary over House Majority Leader Eric Cantor. During his two terms in Congress, he maintained ties with white nationalist media as well as far-right conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, in addition to receiving support from Fox News host Sean Hannity, until he lost his seat to a Democrat in the 2018 midterm election. He is now the dean of the school of business at the Christian right-affiliated Liberty University.

On the March 8 edition of War Room: Pandemic, Bannon and Brat discussed a set of Russian demands that were announced Monday, in which Ukraine would cease military action, amend its constitution to adopt a “neutral” status in which it would not seek to join NATO, and give up its claims to the Crimean Peninsula and the Donbas region.

At a time when Russian attackers have targeted fleeing civilians, Brat implored the audience to remember “the golden rule” and consider Russian dictator Vladimir Putin’s perspective: “There’s no way Putin is going to allow our aggressive military power on their border.”

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Citation From the March 8, 2022, edition of Real America’s Voice’s War Room: Pandemic

DAVE BRAT: I’ll put the caveat in first, the caveat is the mistake has been made, the fundamental flaw in our logic, six years ago we knew the logic. And that is, Ukraine’s a buffer, and there’s no way they’re going to be a NATO country, there’s no way they’re going to be a EU country. Because, would we allow the Russians into Cuba? No, the answer’s no.


BRAT: Or, Mexico.

BANNON: It’s better, Mexico, they’re jammed up on there. It’s Mexico, baby, it’s ain’t — Cuba’s got water.

BRAT: So, if you understand that logic, then, you know, the golden rule. There’s no way Putin is going to allow our aggressive military power on their border, especially when it abuts the Black Sea and then goes out past Turkey to get to the major waterways. It’s crucial to them. And Putin said this about six years ago, he said this is [his] boiling point. So, with that as the caveat, I think Zelensky’s got a good deal facing him. And I would close on that deal today. That — those four points.

BANNON: Hold on, those four points, from the American people’s point of view, and maybe the Ukrainian people’s point of view, you would tell Zelensky to close that deal?

BRAT: Yeah, as a Christian brother, I would tell him, if you do not close on this deal, Kyiv, the other major cities, are going to be just devastated. Putin has got an ego, we’ve backed him into a corner. The good news is, Russia as well as China in a decade, have a massive demographic problem, they’ve got massive structural economic problems.

BANNON: Financial problems.

BRAT: They’re fading. So you ride them out on this stuff, like China does, they look a hundred years out. This country has got to start looking out a little bit into the future. We’re going to win in the end, so you just allow the buffer in the intermediate time, take that deal, our economy will prevail.

Many commentators in right-wing media have pushed pro-Putin messaging, declaring that Russia should be able to take as much Ukrainian territory as it wishes. Fox News prime-time host Tucker Carlson and his frequent guests have also spread false claims that Putin invaded Ukraine because he did not want it to join NATO. Such a claim was readily disproven in the months leading up to the invasion, with observers pointing out that Ukraine had a neutral constitution in 2014, when Russia first attacked eastern Ukraine and annexed Crimea, along with recent reports that Russia was plotting to install a puppet regime in Kyiv.

The entire reasoning here has an oddly circular nature: According to Putin apologists, Ukraine is being invaded by Russia because it wished to be part of an alliance to defend against any potential invasion from Russia — and if it were only to abandon its opposition to being invaded, the invasion would cease. (And it never would have been invaded in the first place, supposedly, if it had not been so opposed to being invaded.)

This tortured logic covers up a much simpler explanation that has been known for many years: Putin aspires to reunite the Soviet Union under Russian hegemony. He has singled out Ukraine as not even being a real country with its own history, which should instead be seen as “an inherent part of [Russia’s] own history, culture, [and] spiritual space.”

As a result, pleas from right-wing figures for Ukraine to be a “buffer” next to Russia simply disregard any wishes that Ukrainians themselves might have to become part of the democratic world, while privileging Russia’s claims that Ukraine should instead be forever a defenseless territory with only an illusion of independence.

To be very clear, there are serious issues involved with any potential decision for U.S. military involvement — a path that would mean U.S. war with Russia  — while the Biden administration has instead taken a major role in the global economic sanctions that have now isolated Russia’s economy. But it ought to be possible to make the case against direct U.S. escalation without actually sympathizing with Putin’s aims for domination of the region, nor to simply dismiss the aspirations of the Ukrainian people and other nations whom Russia is seeking to control.