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In her compelling congressional testimony during the 2019 impeachment inquiry into then-President Donald Trump's conduct regarding Ukraine, Fiona Hill, who had been deputy assistant to the president and senior director for European and Russian affairs on the National Security Council, implored lawmakers to "not promote politically driven falsehoods that so clearly advance Russian interests."

Five years hence, Russian interests are again advanced by politically driven falsehoods, and they may directly affect the expected vote in the U.S. House this weekend on Ukraine aid. Already, "the debate about it has been unbelievably damaging to Ukraine, because it has signaled a lack of commitment to support the country and its ability to fend off Russia," Hill told me in an interview on Thursday before she addressed a capacity crowd at a Global Minnesota event.

The political "battle," as Hill labeled it, "signals to Russia that the United States can be basically manipulated, because a lot of the reasons that have been put forward to oppose the bill by people like [Georgia Republican U.S. Rep.] Marjorie Taylor Greene and many others is basically replete with the same themes that have been made in Russian propaganda."

It's not just Hill — a nonpartisan foreign policy professional who served in the George W. Bush, Obama and Trump administrations — calling out the congressional Kremlin echoes. It's prominent Republican representatives like Michael McCaul, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, who told Puck News that Russian propaganda "has infected a good chunk of my party's base." And Ohio Rep. Michael R. Turner, chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, who told CNN's "State of the Union" program that "we see directly coming from Russia attempts to mask communications that are anti-Ukraine and pro-Russia messages — some of which we even hear being uttered on the House floor." This makes it more difficult to rightly position the war as "an authoritarian-versus-democracy battle," said Turner, who added that "Ukraine needs our help and assistance now, and this is a very critical time for the U.S. Congress to step up and provide that aid."

The Kremlin's intent is evident in a classified addendum to a Foreign Ministry document obtained by the Washington Post that calls for an "offensive information campaign" that spans "the military-political, economic and trade and informational psychological spheres" against the U.S. and the West. It's important, the document states, "to create a mechanism for finding the vulnerable points of their external and internal policies with the aim of developing practical steps to weaken Russia's opponents."

We're "awash in a sea of Russian propaganda all of the time," said Hill, who added that it compares to the 2016 election, when Russian operatives "were able to manipulate public opinion in the United States." There's still the "ability to do that because of our own vulnerabilities and political differences," she said, pointing out "the fact that Ukraine has become a domestic political crisis issue is very telling."

The crisis may have in fact devolved into a domestic one, but it's acutely geopolitical, and the conflation of the two doesn't just affect Eastern Europe but East Asia, the Mideast and beyond.

Even if the aid bill passes this weekend, the U.S. "will start to see a changed environment in the future," Hill said. "Countries are less convinced about the United States' commitment to the security of its allies, because this isn't just about Ukraine. This is about European security, South Korea, Japan, other U.S. allies in other regions who feel under threat."

The "whole situation," she continued, "has been dramatically changed by these months of ruinous infighting inside of the Congress. The reputation of the United States has taken a hit" and the "knock-on effects" may include countries considering developing nuclear weapons.

Cold War-era nuclear proliferation prompted Hill's initial foray into foreign affairs, as told in "There Is Nothing For You Here: Finding Opportunity in the 21st Century." Part memoir, part warning about the link between economic dislocation and populism that spans the U.S., U.K. and Russia, it details her journey "from the coalhouse to the White House" as the daughter and granddaughter of British coal miners who, through burning curiosity, keen intellect and admirable determination, overcomes class disadvantages to become a renowned Russian scholar, serving her adopted home country in Republican and Democratic administrations and at think tanks, including her current role as senior fellow in the Brookings Institution's Center on the United States and Europe.

Besides scores of scholarly articles and her memoir, Hill is the author of "Mr. Putin: Operative in the Kremlin." Having chronicled the Russian president, she's concluded that "Putin has got an incredible nose for weakness and vulnerability, and he knows how to push all of our negative buttons. He does not believe in altruism or principles. He believes — and he has said this openly many, many times again — that people are just motivated by power and greed and vanity and all the rest of it."

Having interacted with both Putin and Trump, Hill said that "when Putin looks at Trump, he thinks 'I can manipulate this guy' — the false sort of strongman position, Putin sees all the way through that and every single time that I've witnessed him interacting with Trump he's been just looking for those vulnerabilities. He knows that Trump doesn't care about Ukraine."

Putin's calculus, continued Hill, is that "what's happening in the United States is all about U.S. politics, is all about people's pursuit of power and I can use that. I can win on the ground in Ukraine because the United States is basically going to pull back and give up and the Europeans and Ukrainians are not in a position yet, but they will be over time, to basically push back, so the moment to act is now."

While he may have spectacularly miscalculated in the initial full-scale invasion in 2022, Hill said that Putin now "thinks that he is right, and that the United States and its Western allies are extremely vulnerable and that in fighting among ourselves we will basically present weakness as an opportunity for him to push forward."

Remember, Hill said, that "Putin is extraordinarily proficient at judo. Judo is all about getting your bigger, stronger opponent just off balance so you can push them to the floor. That's what Putin is waiting to do."

The West, led by the U.S., is that bigger, stronger opponent and can begin to regain its balance by returning to the unity the United States used to win the Cold War. A big signal would be bipartisan approval of the $95 billion package of aid to Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan.

"We are not operating from a position of strength," concluded Hill. "We're operating from a position of incredible political weakness at this particular moment because we are so divided against each other.

"We've forgotten that we're Americans."

It's time to remember.