Congress has approved more than $100 billion in aid for Ukraine since Russia invaded the country in February 2022. Throughout that time, lawmakers have taken to X, formerly known as Twitter, to defend that funding, to call for more assistance, or to argue that aid should be audited, paused, or stopped altogether. Our team analyzed 2,295 tweets that members of Congress posted about the war during the first six months of 2023. Data shows that Republicans are steering the conversation. GOP lawmakers have posted 59% more tweets about the war than their Democratic colleagues. More strikingly, Republican posts are being retweeted and liked roughly two-and-a-half times more than Democratic posts. While the most retweeted GOP posts are generally critical of US assistance for Ukraine, we found more Republican posts that supported Kyiv’s war efforts than posts that called US aid into question. Democrats, on the other hand, presented a far more unified front in their commitment to supporting Ukraine, but their relatively limited number of posts about the war suggests that it is not a messaging priority. The absence of a high-volume pro-Ukraine push combined with the popularity of anti-Ukraine content on X has created the perception that US political support for Ukraine is waning and fracturing, but that idea is driven by an influential and vocal minority in one party, not the majority in either party.   

By the Numbers

Members of Congress tweeted the terms “Ukraine”, “Zelenskyy”, “Zelensky”, “Russia”, or “Putin” 2,295 times throughout the first six months of 2023, generating more than 687,000 retweets and 3 million likes. However, Republicans and Democrats did not contribute evenly to those statistics. GOP lawmakers posted about Russia or Ukraine 1,409 times—59% more than Democrats’ 886 posts. Republicans also generated the bulk of the engagement. Their tweets garnered roughly 543,000 retweets—275% more than Democrats earned—and 2.4 million likes—261% more than Democrats brought in. On top of that, GOP legislators posted 18 of the 20 most retweeted posts and 16 of the 20 most liked tweets about the war.  

Most of those top tweets belonged to Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), an outspoken critic of assistance for Ukraine. Greene was responsible for 17 of the 20 most retweeted posts about the war. Her 99 posts on the topic earned nearly 300,000 retweets and more than 1.25 million likes. Greene has claimed that funding for Kyiv is “unconstitutional”, called Ukraine “one of the most corrupt countries in the world”, and argued that it is “unforgivable” to be “depleting our own military arsenal” to arm Ukraine. Greene’s inflammatory tweets have made her far more influential on X than the most retweeted Democrat, Jamie Raskin (D-MD), whose posts in support of Ukraine have brought in only 21% of the retweets that Greene’s have generated.

Although Greene was the most prominent voice, Don Bacon (R-NE) tweeted about Russia or Ukraine more than any other lawmaker. Within Bacon’s 104 posts, he has called Russia a “renegade state committing crimes against humanity” and criticized the Biden administration for not providing Ukraine with aid more quickly. Bacon’s posts about the war, though, only received an average of 4 retweets.

Despite his low engagement numbers, Bacon’s pro-Ukraine views aligned with the majority of Republican posts that we reviewed. In 500 randomly sampled tweets from GOP legislators, we found 156 posts that implicitly or explicitly supported Ukraine and 99 tweets that opposed sending aid. The rest of the posts were either neutral or unrelated to the war, such as posts about arms control or domestic Russian issues. Senators like Lindsay Graham (R-SC), Mitt Romney (R-UT), and Roger Wicker (R-MS) came out strongly in favor of assisting Kyiv, often calling out the Biden administration for not doing enough to help Ukraine’s war efforts. Meanwhile, GOP members of Congress like Greene and Andy Biggs (R-AZ) claimed that President Joe Biden had chosen “Ukraine over America” and had brought the United States “closer to a major world war”.  Within our 500-tweet sample, we also found 85 instances where Republicans tied Ukraine or Russia to the US border, Hunter Biden’s scandals, or the Kremlin’s interference in the 2016 election.

On the Democratic side, Steve Cohen (D-TN) posted most frequently about the war throughout the first six months of 2023. Cohen’s 59 posts uniformly supported Ukraine—as did all the posts from Democratic lawmakers that we reviewed. In 500 randomly sampled tweets from Democrats, our team did not find a single post that opposed US support for Ukraine. However, some of the most influential Democrats avoided weighing in on the issue. High-profile figures like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), who is among the most followed Democrats on X, did not send any tweets mentioning the words “Ukraine”, “Zelenskyy”, “Zelensky”, “Russia”, or “Putin” in the first half of 2023.

Why It Matters

Retweets do not make policy or necessarily reflect reality. Republicans who oppose supporting Ukraine tend to generate the most engagement on X, but their online popularity has done little to slow funding for the war-torn country or to shift public opinion against providing that aid. A recent Gallup poll shows that a record high number of Americans believe the United States is doing the “right amount” to help Ukraine. The amplification of posts by GOP lawmakers who are skeptical of supporting Kyiv also distorts perceptions around the party’s position. In the 500 randomly sampled tweets we reviewed, there were more Republican posts in favor of supporting Ukraine than against it.

However, anti-Ukraine content could erode US support for the country’s war effort over time. Democrats have shown remarkable solidarity with Ukraine and achieved real policy results, but their messaging has been limited in volume and earned only a small amount of engagement, in part because some of the party’s most influential online voices have not commented on the war. It’s possible that this version of Democratic unity and success has made the party somewhat complacent and led them to deprioritize their Ukraine-focused messaging. It’s also possible that Democrats are weary of aggravating isolationist and anti-war elements within the party. If this dynamic continues, anti-Ukraine voices could capitalize on the information gap and whittle support away from Kyiv as the war drags on.

Gabriele Sava contributed research to this report. 

The views expressed in GMF publications and commentary are the views of the author alone.