MOSCOW, Oct 11 (Reuters) – Russian President Vladimir Putin’s foreign intelligence chief said on Wednesday that the issue of support for Ukraine was becoming toxic in the United States and that divisions would deepen ahead of next year’s U.S. presidential election.
The United States and the European Union have committed more than $160 billion to Ukraine since Russia invaded Ukraine last February, including tens of billions of dollars in weapons.
However, President Joe Biden last week expressed concern that U.S. aid to Ukraine could be compromised by chaos in Congress, while Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has repeatedly warned of the dangers of allowing Russia to win the war.
“On the eve of the upcoming presidential elections, the topic of Ukraine is becoming increasingly toxic,” Sergei Naryshkin, head of Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service, said during a visit to Azerbaijan’s capital Baku.
“This is becoming a bone of contention,” Naryshkin said, describing the fight in Washington as one between those passionate about improving American lives and those with a hatred of Russians.
Diplomats and intelligence analysts have said for months that Putin is betting that U.S. resolve on Ukraine will weaken as Washington faces a different global crisis and, apparently, defeats the hundreds of thousands of Russian soldiers holding out in Ukraine What a difficult task. Ukraine.
Republican lawmakers ousted House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, raising questions about the future of aid to Ukraine. The United States has also repeatedly urged Kyiv to do more to combat corruption, reported this month.
Naryshkin, Russia’s foreign spy chief since October 2016, said McCarthy’s ouster showed the “malignancy” of the Ukraine issue in the US political system.
He said Moscow’s counterterrorism cooperation with Western spy agencies continued, although he said the scale of such contacts had been reduced due to Western “aggression” against Russia over Ukraine.
Moscow says its military operations in Ukraine are aimed at defending against what it calls hostile and aggressive Western countries. Kiev and its Western backers say this is absurd and that Russia is waging an unprovoked war of aggression and plunder.
Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge Editing by Gareth Jones
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