Kevin McCarthy, Speaker of the US House of Representatives, is not a natural enemy of Ukraine. The Republican has questioned the amount of American aid several times – but then always ensured that his group agreed to the billions.

Robert Fico, the populist election winner last weekend in Slovakia, cannot have any interest in Russia winning – his country borders Ukraine to the east.

Poland’s Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki has so far stood out as one of Ukraine’s most loyal supporters, his country has taken in more refugees than any other, and the city of Rzesz√≥w in the east is a hub for weapons delivered to the country by NATO partners.

Two weeks ago, however, Morawiecki irritated people with statements about the war: “We are no longer supplying armaments to Ukraine, but are equipping ourselves with the most modern weapons.” Morawiecki quickly put his statements into perspective, saying that of course they would still be on Ukraine’s side – but the impression remained: anything is allowed in the election campaign. Also question the common front against Russia.

Politicians like McCarthy, Fico and Marowiecki are playing a risky game. More like: an irresponsible game. In year two of the Russian invasion, war weariness in the West is palpable. In the first months of the war, aid to Ukraine was considered a reason of state, Ukrainian refugees were warmly and openly welcomed, but 18 months of war and inflation have dampened the mood of several hundred thousand refugee Ukrainians who need money and school places. In Germany, record survey results clearly show this for the AfD’s Russia-understanding people.

What is even more important for the course of the war, however, is what is currently happening in the USA. By the end of July 2023, the United States had provided Ukraine with almost $77 billion in support, including more than $46 billion in the form of weapons, tanks and training. Without this help, military strategists agree, Ukraine would have lost the war long ago.

Now, however, majority leader Kevin McCarthy is allowing himself to be taken hostage by the ultra-right wing of his party. He released the Ukraine aid as a last-minute compromise to avoid the shutdown, also and above all: to save his own job. Observers in Washington have long been complaining that little is as important to McCarthy as the reputation he derives from his job as speaker.

Former US Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul outlines the consequences in clear terms: “The House of Representatives gave Putin a great gift today.”

The election campaign is an elementary element of a free society, just like the elections themselves. Here, moods can and should be explored, positions should be canvassed, and yes, it can sometimes get beer tented and politically incorrect.

What shouldn’t happen, however, is when looking at votes leads to playing into the hands of those who don’t think much of fair elections – like Vladimir Putin.

Putin, for example, as journalist Anne Applebaum described it here in Stern, and as many observers see it, only understands the language of harshness. Anyone who offers him an open flank will feel it sooner or later. Maintaining a common front takes energy, especially during the election campaign. But every politician, whether in Washington or Wroclaw, should be clear: the alternative would be to give Putin the victory.