Rep. Spartz slow to step up for her war-torn homeland


KEY WEST, Fla. — The news from eastern Europe has been grim this past week. Ukraine has retreated from the strategic hub of Avdiivka, its army running out of ammunition and manpower. And in an Arctic gulag, 47-year-old Alexei Anatolyevich Navalny, one of the sole Russian leaders willing to stand up to the dictator Vladimir Putin, was murdered by the regime.

Navalny’s death is just another bloody chapter during the Putin era. Radio Free Europe observed: “The list of influential Russians who have been killed or died in murky circumstances after opposing, criticizing, or crossing Russian President Vladimir Putin, the Kremlin, or the state is long. And it just got longer.” The Associated Press reported: “Most of Russia’s opposition is either dead, scattered abroad in exile or in prison at home.”

At a time when her homeland finds itself nearing a tipping point between victory and defeat, the only Ukraine native ever to serve in the United States Congress — Rep. Victoria Spartz, R-Carmel — has largely been missing in action until this past week.

In another head-spinning episode, Spartz reversed herself from a year ago, announcing she will seek reelection. In doing so, she cited her embattled homeland. “As someone who grew up under tyranny, I understand the significance of these challenging times for our Republic,” Spartz said.

It came 24-hours after Republican House Speaker Mike Johnson called an aid package for Ukraine at $60 billion, Israel and the southern border “dead on arrival.”

And while House Republican support for Ukraine has been rapidly peeling away, Spartz has hardly lifted a rhetorical finger.

Until this past week, her last official statement on the war came Oct. 24, 2023, just as GOP Capitol Hill support for Ukraine began to erode precipitously. “As someone with firsthand knowledge of the situation in Europe, I urge President Biden and the Democrats to stop playing politics with people’s lives regarding the war in Ukraine,” she said.

There have been few statements and no press conferences where she could have demanded her majority Republican colleagues to act.

Since Navalny’s death, Rep. Spartz has begun to re-emerge. She will attend several security conferences this weekend in Munich and Nuremberg. “Our security situation in Europe and across the globe is very serious”, Spartz said in a statement. “Members of the United States Congress must send a stern message to our European allies to start taking threats from Russia, Iran and China more seriously.”

She was interviewed by CNN, saying, “Russia is run by criminals, mafia and FSB. This is the two-year anniversary of this war, so now I’m glad everyone is talking about it. I hope Republicans put pressure on Russia and Democrats to do better.”

She was also interviewed by Neil Cavuto on Fox News “Coast to Coast” program. Asked about Navalny’s death, Spartz said, “It definitely looks suspicious, but it’s not surprising. It was very suspicious right before Russia elections. He was one of the few people left.”

Cavuto asked Spartz if it bothered her that former President Trump are Putin friendly, adding, “It seems weird.” This came after Trump said at a South Carolina rally that he would “encourage them to do whatever the hell they want,” saying it would be OK with him if Putin were to attack NATO allies if they hadn’t paid their dues.

“Donald Trump has a very unique way of dealing with leaders,” Spartz said.

Cavuto asked, “If he becomes president again, does that relationship bother you? They seem to be great chums.”

Spartz responded, “President Biden was very weak in deterring him. I have more frustrations with what is happening with this administration. With President Trump it doesn’t matter. I care about actions and that’s what Putin cares about.”

Spartz added, They (NATO) have to worry about Russia and we have to step up. If Ukraine loses this war, the implication for the United States will be significant. Ukraine was pushed to give up its nuclear weapons. We’ll look pretty bad.”

Last September at a town hall in Westfield, in an area with growing conservative skepticism about continued U.S. funding for Ukraine, nearly 40 minutes passed before the topic of Ukraine came up.

Spartz told her constituents, “I’ve been bitching and I was dragged through mud over accountability. ‘She’s pro-Kremlin because she’s pro-accountability.’ I was shocked, shocked! I’m a congresswoman asking where the money is being spent. There’s a limited amount of money, a limited amount of resources, and you have to make sure it goes to proper places.”

Conservative political theorist Francis Fukuyama recently observed, “The United States has for some time ceased to be a serious country. Our extreme polarization combined with institutional rules that privilege minorities makes it impossible for us to meet our international obligations. The Republican Party has grown very adept at hostage holding. The hard-core MAGA wing represents a minority within a minority, yet our institutional rules permit them to veto decisions clearly favored by a majority of Americans.”

Wall Street Journal columnist Casey Michel says Donald Trump’s proposed solution for Urkraine “can be summarized in one word, appeasement.”

And Anne Applebaum of The Atlantic, citing the looming fall of Avdiivka due to acute ammunition shortages, said earlier this year, “People will die, today, because of the cynical game played by the American Republican Party. Their irresponsibility is breathtaking.”


Brian Howey is senior writer and columnist for Howey Politics Indiana/State Affairs. Find Howey on Facebook and X @hwypol.