Our global elites tell us that supporting Ukraine is akin to saving democracy in the West. However, increasingly this entire debacle seems like the tail wagging the dog. While neocons like Bill Kristol seem to think Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is “admirable” for his antics in front of the camera since Russia invaded Ukraine, some of us remember he was a television actor before assuming the presidency. It also seems American and European dignitaries can enter the war zone without fear of reprisal or violence.

It is also becoming increasingly clear that Ukraine is not a democracy. Zelenskyy has undertaken some moves typically reserved for authoritarians like Putin. In January, former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko returned to Kyiv to face treason charges. According to Reuters:

Poroshenko, 56, is being investigated for alleged treason linked to the financing of Russian-backed separatist fighters through illegal coal sales in 2014-15. He could face 15 years in prison if convicted. His party accused Zelenskiy of a reckless attempt to silence political opposition.

Obama administration officials handpicked Poroshenko to lead Ukraine after the Maidan Revolution in 2014. This interference in Ukraine’s politics was made clear by an infamous leaked tape of Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland and Ukrainian Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt. The world focused on Nuland saying, “F*ck the EU”; the actual substance of the conversation gave Russia’s Vladimir Putin the ability to say that the United States was manipulating the political process.

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Then, in March, Zelenskyy banned eleven opposition political parties and merged all private media outlets into a single state-run entity. According to the Spectator:

The news that Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelensky has banned eleven opposition parties – including the pro-Russian ‘Opposition – Platform For Life’ which holds 44 seats in the 450-member Ukrainian parliament and has spoken out against the Russian invasion – may be the embattled leader’s first major mistake in the month since Putin launched his brutal invasion.

Zelensky coupled the decree suspending the activities of the parties, decided on by Ukraine’s national defence and security council, with a ban on private TV stations – merging them all into a single state-run TV channel. And that could be his second big error.

Zelenskyy’s moves erased a vital selling point that engendered sympathy and support from other democratic nations. It also blurred the lines for Ukrainians who wish to live in a country with diverse media, free elections, and the ability of opposition parties to express their views.

Yet, Zelenskyy seemed to feel quite comfortable pushing the United States for additional monetary and military aid even after Congress approved nearly $60 billion in support. That is several times Ukraine’s annual spend on military defense and equivalent to several years of funding for the war in Afghanistan. Now, he seems emboldened enough to name a list of “speakers who promote narratives consonant with Russian propaganda” that includes U.S. citizens.

Americans on the list include journalist Glenn Greenwald, former congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, Senator Rand Paul, and 25 others. In a shocking omission, Fox News host Tucker Carlson, who has been critical of the administration’s approach to Ukraine and what he sees as an unnecessary escalation with Putin, was not on the list.

Neither is Rep. Victoria Sparks (R-Ind.), a Ukrainian-born member of Congress. She has called on Zelenskyy to “stop playing politics and theater” and “start governing to better support his military and local governments.” Sparks has family in Ukraine and has traveled there six times since the conflict began. She also urged Biden to articulate a strategy to go with the aid and implored Congress to “establish proper oversight of critical infrastructure and delivery of weapons and aid.” Ukraine has a long history of corruption, and Zelnskyy has done little to rein in the oligarchs despite his campaign promises.

America’s leaders need to tell Zelenskyy to keep his censorious nonsense at home. This nation is his bread and butter right now, and the least he can do is show some respect. In the United States, if Congress is going to give billions of dollars to Ukraine and put us in direct conflict with a nuclear-armed Russia, it will be vigorously debated. And these debates should focus on what actions best achieve security and prosperity for American citizens. Nothing Zelenskyy’s Ministry of Truth, eerily named the “Center for Countering Disinformation,” has to say will change that.

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