According to a Reuters/Ipsos poll published last week in The Wall Street Journal, 66% of Republicans said Russian President Vladimir Putin is primarily to blame for the situation between Ukraine and Russia.
Among other Republicans surveyed, 2% blamed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, 15% President Biden, 4% the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and 13% someone else or said they didn’t know, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Based on this poll, Republican 3rd Congressional District candidate Joe Kent aligns with only a small percentage of his party in his stance on the invasion of Ukraine.
In an interview with The Chronicle Wednesday, Kent would not say Putin’s military action in Ukraine was unprovoked. He instead said: “I condemn his military aggression,” but that Putin “had legitimate concerns about Russia.”
“We, the west at large, pushed (Russia) into this situation of encroachment. Because we continued to say ‘NATO membership, maybe the EU will come in there,” he added. “You’ve got Russia, you’ve got Europe, and in the middle is Ukraine. They will be a buffer state. If one side pushes too hard on it, it’s going to create a reaction on the other side.”
On March 7, it was reported that Russia would halt its invading troops if Ukraine ceased military action, changed its constitution to enshrine neutrality, acknowledged Crimea as Russian territory and recognized Donetsk and Lugansk as independent states. That day, Kent took to Twitter, writing that those terms were “very reasonable.”
On Wednesday, Kent repeated that he thinks these terms are reasonable and said rather than sanctions or military action, the U.S. should be taking steps toward “aggressive diplomacy.”
“Again, geostrategic reality. It just it is what it is, and we need adults in the room right now to make these hard decisions and to do the hard things and to go meet with thugs like Putin — KGB thugs — and figure out what's best for our country, what's best for the American people,” Kent said.
After calling him both terms, when challenged on whether Putin was “reasonable” or a “thug,” Kent said: “He’s a reasonable thug. The world is full of reasonable thugs.”
Apparently, he thinks Zelensky is one of them, too. Though he did not use the qualifier of “reasonable” when describing the Ukrainian president.
Kent again represented a controversial opinion and misaligned with the majority of his party when he took to Twitter on Saturday to say that Rep. Madison Cawthorn, R-North Carolina, “nailed it” when he called Zelensky a “thug.”
"Zelenskyy was installed via a US backed color revaluation, his goal is to move his county west so he virtue signals in woke ideology while using nazi battalions to crush his enemies," Kent wrote on social media. "He was also smart enough to cut our elite in on the graft."
Kent’s position runs contrary to incumbent Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Battle Ground, who he is seeking to unseat.
In a recent statement, the congresswoman called Russia’s aggression in Ukraine “unwarranted,” and included a list of legislative actions she has taken to support Ukraine, one of which was: “Helping Congress advance funding this week totaling $13.6 billion in security assistance to Ukraine. This is in addition to the $3.1 billion since 2014, which includes anti-aircraft weaponry, helicopters, and other vital equipment.”