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Former Fox News anchor Tucker Carlson recently completed his speaking tour of Canada. Apparently, he wants to "liberate" us from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Carlson is now visiting Moscow to convene with the paragon of freedom and democracy himself: Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The last few weeks have somehow gone from terrible to worse for Russia’s dictator. A Mediazona investigation confirmed the identities of over 43,460 Russian soldiers killed in Ukraine. The wives of mobilized Russian troops have begun protesting against Putin. CIA director Bill Burns also stated that the invasion of Ukraine has crippled the Russian economy, left Russia beholden to China, and helped the U.S. recruit spies deep behind enemy lines.

It only gets worse.

On Jan. 25, Turkey finally ratified Sweden’s NATO membership after nearly two years of delays. In an interview with CNN Turk, U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Victoria Nuland said that Ankara can be welcomed back into the F-35 family if it transfers its Russian-made S-400 air defense systems to Kyiv. She also insinuated that the U.S. and Turkey are working together to provide Turkish-built 155 mm artillery shells to Ukraine.

On Feb. 1, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, widely regarded as Russia’s Trojan horse in NATO, dropped his veto and voted in favor of the European Union’s 50 billion-euro ($53.8 billion) Ukraine Facility to fund Kyiv through to 2027. Germany also passed its annual budget, which includes over $8 billion in military assistance to Ukraine for 2024.

Armenia, a member of the Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) and one of the handful of countries that supported Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea in 2014, also became the 124th party to the International Criminal Court (ICC) on Feb. 1. Given the ICC’s arrest warrant against Putin and Yerevan’s recent criticism of Moscow, the Russian dictator is unlikely to visit Moscow’s longtime ally any time in the near future.

The White House will skirt congressional opposition to Ukraine aid by donating weapons to Greece with the expectation that Athens will then donate its own surplus equipment to Kyiv. Even worse, the West is considering using Moscow’s estimated $300 billion in frozen assets as collateral to guarantee loans to Ukraine.

Instead of building on the momentum, helping Ukraine win the war, and aligning with the White House, the Senate, and America’s allies, pro-Russia Republicans repeatedly throw the Kremlin lifelines. Just last week, House Speaker Mike Johnson announced that Congress would vote on assistance to Israel in a bill separate from the U.S.-Mexico border deal and military aid to Ukraine.

Carlson’s pro-Russia Republican associates advance Putin’s interests in Congress. The self-proclaimed "free speech absolutist" himself normalizes the Russian dictator who spent a quarter century invading his neighbours, jailing his critics, and exterminating his opponents. Business as usual.

From denying Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s chemical weapon attacks against civilians to suggesting that the U.S. blew up the Nord Stream pipeline, Carlson has parroted the Kremlin’s talking points, disinformation, and propaganda for years. He has also whitewashed, justified, and supported Russia’s invasion of Ukraine under the pretext of "NATO expansion" since the beginning of the war. Even had the audacity to blame the U.S. for it.

Putin’s propagandists themselves, the same regime mouthpieces who call for genocide in Ukraine, nuking London, Warsaw, and Berlin, and destroying America, have championed Carlson for standing firmly with Russia against the West. Anyone who watches Russian television is aware of how they adore Carlson, refer to Trump as "our president," and celebrate every time the Republican party sabotages military aid to Kyiv.

Despite visiting Moscow in 2024 and supporting Russia’s war against Ukraine, the U.S., and the West, Carlson still portrays himself as an American "patriot." Meanwhile, international journalists and Russian expats who criticize Putin, oppose the war, or campaign for a democratic Russia are spied on by the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) and banned from entering the country for life. Some are even murdered abroad.

Today, two American journalists are imprisoned in Russia without due process for simply practicing journalism. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty’s (RFE/RL) Alsu Kurmasheva is liable to imprisonment for five years for allegedly "failing to register as a foreign agent" and spreading "false information" about the Russian military. The Wall Street Journal’s Evan Gershkovich, who has spent nearly a year in pre-trial detention, also faces up to 20 years in prison on bogus charges.

A pro-Russia Republican traveling to Moscow to "interview" a pathological liar like Putin in the year 2024 is similar to a Nazi sympathizer visiting Berlin in 1940 to speak with Adolf Hitler. America wasn’t officially at war with Nazi Germany, but it was possible – some might even say inevitable – given Washington’s diplomatic and military support for Great Britain. To pro-Russia Republicans, that’s just "journalism" because it’s important to "hear both sides of the story."

America’s most infamous news anchor is no stranger to controversy. He has stirred it for years, increasing viewership and driving ratings at Fox News. Carlson’s lies eventually cost his employer $787 million in a settlement deal with Dominion Voting Systems. Naturally, he also lost his job. Whatever his reasons for visiting Moscow, this episode will likely cost America, Ukraine, and the West a lot more than that.

Originally published by The Kyiv Independent on February 6, 2024.

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