November 11, 2022 Special Dispatch No. 10312

Muted Russian Reaction To Indecisive US Elections

November 11, 2022
Russia | Special Dispatch No. 10312

The Russian media did not lavish attention on the American elections for a number of reasons: Russian experts generally believed that on issues pertaining to Russia there was little to choose between Democrats and Republicans. Even if there were differences the extremely close contest for control of the House and the Senate made it difficult to point to a clear repudiation of the current administration. Third, for once the Russian dismissal of the importance of US elections used as a rebuttal to charges that Russia was seeking to influence the US elections had an ironic element of truth. Russia this time did have to deal with the breaking story of the decision to withdraw troops from Kherson city, the one Ukrainian provincial capital that had been in Russian hands. The one comforting conclusion that commentators could agree upon was that the United States was an extremely divided society rendering the formation of a coherent policy  a virtual impossibility.

A survey of Russian reactions to the American elections follows below:

A Russian view of US elections (Source:

Attempts To Portray The Elections As A Rebuke To Biden's Support For Ukraine

Russia's former president and the current Deputy Chairman of the Russian Federation's Security Council Dmitry Medvedev commented on his Telegram channel that the initial returns showed that support for Washington's course in the world is decreasing,

According to Medvedev, the results confirmed that "the familiar world of grandfather Biden is flying away, support for US policy in the world is decreasing, and reliance on the stoned 'hetman' [channeling the assertion by Russian leaders that Volodomyr Zelensky is a drug addict was a big mistake."[1]

One Russian paper attempted to shoehorn the reelection of Kentucky Senator Rand Paul into this optimistic narrative. The paper noted that the Republican senator opposed fast-track approval for a nearly $40 billion aid package for Ukraine. The senator pushed for a clause in the bill requiring the Biden administration to create a special inspector general to oversee military aid to Ukraine. Paul also abstained from voting on the resolution to ratify the accession protocols for Finland and Sweden to NATO.[2]

In contrast, the general opinion was that Russia could not expect a change for the better even if the Republicans prevailed. Any benefit would be less a product of a more favorable attitude towards Russia but a Republican predilection for fiscal prudence that would temper aid to Ukraine

Political scientist Yevgeny Minchenko believes that the results of the midterm elections to the US Congress will not affect Russia in any way. According to Minchenko, there will be no fundamental movement in US foreign policy given the likelihood that neither party would control both houses of Congress. Differences over support for Ukraine were not strategic, but tactical, as Republicans criticized US President Joe Biden not over his support for Ukraine but because the aid was allocated without control and because the aid packages could not be separated into component parts.[3]

Political science professor and columnist Gevorg Mirzayan believes that if the Republicans manage to control congress, they would significantly reduce aid to Kyiv preferring to divert the money saved to projects that would help stimulate the US economy.[4]

Senator Olga Kovidi, who represents Crimea foresees no change in the US-Russia relationship regardless of the congressional elections' victor. A Republican victory in the elections, she believed could touch off an American domestic political crisis.

For Democrats, who systematically squandered American taxpayer money under the pretext of providing military assistance to Ukraine, the coming two years leading to the 2024 presidential elections could prove very difficult, with Republican control of Congress.[5]

Prigozhin Boasts Of Electoral Interference

Perhaps this indirect benefit of Republican rule sufficed for the owner of the Wagner Private Military Company, Yevgeny Prigozhin, who is vying for increased influence to let drop that the newspapers under his control were trying to influence the American elections.

"Gentlemen, we interfered, we interfere and we will interfere. Carefully, precisely, surgically and in our own way, as we know how. During our pinpoint operations, we will remove both kidneys and the liver simultaneously."[6]

Prigozhin's frankness elicited a rebuke from State Department spokesperson Ned Price at a press briefing. Price reminded the audience that Prigozhin was already the target of US sanctions. He continued: It is a demonstration of impunity that someone anywhere can boast publicly of interfering in the democratic elections of another sovereign country, and that nothing would happen to them. And far from anything having happen to him, in terms of the criminal justice system, the so-called criminal justice system in Russia, he is by all accounts a Kremlin insider. He is someone who is a prized associate of —

QUESTION: But that – but the point, I mean, do you expect Putin to act against him?

MR PRICE: Of course, we don’t —

QUESTION: Okay, all right.

QUESTION: We don’t expect President Putin to act against him, but we’d like to see the Russian Federation act against someone who so openly boasts about interfering in the elections of a sovereign country. Of course, we would expect that of a responsible law enforcement system of a responsible government; but of course we know better than to expect that of Russia.[7]

Russian Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Maria Zakharova jumped into the fray to defend Prigozhin and Russia from charges of interference and claimed the real culprit was not Russia.

According to Zakharova, American journalists reverted to the interference charges on a seasonal basis, and would continue to do so. She advised the journalist to concern themselves with domestic issues.

"They all care about it - after all, this is an internal political story, let them finally start talking about topics that concern the American voter, Democrats, Republicans. And finally stop nodding at the external factor in the form of Russia."[8]

Prigozhin himself was unperturbed by Price's remarks and labeled him a rare cynic, because the US habitually interferes in elections worldwide.

"The State Department spokesman is one of the rare cynics that one can discuss. The United States has boorishly and brazenly interfered in elections around the world for the past many decades. They destroyed great empires, for example, the USSR. After that, it’s stupid to say that someone has no right to interfere in their elections." [9]

Yevgeny Prigozhin (Source:

Kortunov: America Remains A Divided Society

International relations expert Andrey Kortunov, Director of the Russian International Affairs Council writing with the advantage of more complete election returns declared the result a victory for Biden. The "red tsunami" had not materialized despite" an extensive set of social and economic problems unresolved by the Democrats - from high inflation to street crime, from uncontrolled migration to the collapse of financial markets." The Democrats were split between the Clinton-Obama wing and the Bernie Sanders wing and yet the Republicans did not prevail by a margin that would assure them of "classic divided government." At best the Republican majority in the lower house of Congress is capable of drinking a lot of blood from the Democratic administration, as well as from their Democratic colleagues on Capitol Hill."

The Republicans did not prevail because they had lurched too far to the right and they were split "between convinced 'Trumpists' and equally convinced opponents of the 45th President of the United States... -. As a result, in the elections, the Republicans failed to win over the political center, and therefore received significantly fewer votes than experts had previously predicted."

For Kortunov "the main outcome of the midterm elections is not the victories of some American politicians and the defeats of others. The vote showed that America remains a divided society, and this split, which has been marked for a long time, continues to deepen. And neither the Republicans nor the Democrats yet have a coherent strategy that allows them hope for overcoming it in the foreseeable future."[10]

Gevorg Mirzayan, commenting a day earlier, predicted a managerial stalemate. Prior to the elections, the Democrats ruled unfettered, they controlled the press and the entire American political space. Even if the Democrats eked out control of the Senate, it would be a pyrrhic victory. It would force them to freeze the electoral field prior to the 2024 elections and securing Biden's reelection.

A Biden run for second terms would require a thorough purge of the media, politics and academia, of people, who sympathize with conservative values. This in turn would result domestically in internal ideological struggle and internationally in aggression.[11]


[1], November 9, 2022.

[2], November 9, 2022.

[3], November 9, 2022.

[4], November 9, 2022.

[5], November 9, 2022.

[6] November 7, 2022.

[7], November 7, 2022.

[8], November 8, 2022.

[9], November 9, 2022.

[10], November 10, 2022.

[11], November 9, 2022.

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