Republican Rift on Ukraine Could Undercut U.S. Appeals to Allies

The bad news, he allowed, is that most Republicans are willing to disown it only in private.

Senator Chris Coons, Democrat of Delaware, said legislation to impose sanctions on Russia and bolster Ukraine’s military and economic position could be on the Senate floor as soon as next week, and he hopes it will counter any message of division.

“This is a moment for us to come together and pass a strong, bipartisan sanctions package to send an unmistakable signal of support for Ukraine, Ukraine’s independence and for President Biden’s leadership,” he said on Wednesday.

Publicly, Republican leaders have been talking tough. After Mr. Biden’s gaffe last week, when he seemed to suggest that a “minor incursion” into Ukraine would not merit a forceful allied response, Representative Steve Scalise of Louisiana, the No. 2 Republican, asked: “Do you think the strong, wonderful people of the Ukraine think it would be a minor incursion if Putin moved tanks into Ukraine, even a piece of the Ukraine? Of course they don’t.”

This week, speaking to reporters in Kentucky, the Senate Republican leader, Mitch McConnell, indicated such criticism had pushed the administration to toughen its stance.

“What I’ve been hearing since then is encouraging, that they’re prepared to take steps before an incursion, not afterwards,” he said, adding, “It appears to me the administration is moving in the right direction.”

But that direction — and that message — may not be what the most partisan Republican voters want. A Yahoo News/YouGov poll released this week found that 62 percent of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents view President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia as a stronger leader than Mr. Biden. But a survey released on Wednesday by the Pew Research Center found that views of Russia’s military buildup near Ukraine did not differ much by partisan affiliation at all.

Representative Tom Malinowski, Democrat of New Jersey, said on Wednesday that some callers to his district office had begun parroting Mr. Carlson’s assertions that the United States should be allied with Russia, not Ukraine, or that he should be supporting Russia’s “reasonable” demands for NATO withdrawal from Eastern Europe.

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