Gov. Ron DeSantis has previously avoided taking a hard stance on the US’s Ukraine policy.
On Monday, DeSantis said in a statement the Ukraine war is not of “vital national interest.”
He also referred to Russia’s unprovoked invasion as a “territorial dispute.”
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis had largely avoided staking out a specific policy position on the war in Ukraine until Monday, when he said it should not be a top-level interest for the US — breaking with many in his party and aligning more closely with former President Donald Trump.
“While the US has many vital national interests — securing our borders, addressing the crisis of readiness with our military, achieving energy security and independence, and checking the economic, cultural and military power of the Chinese Communist Party — becoming further entangled in a territorial dispute between Ukraine and Russia is not one of them,” DeSantis said in a statement provided to “Tucker Carlson Tonight” on Fox News.
Russia launched an unprovoked, full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February of last year. The US has since provided Ukraine with billions of dollars of military aid, which has had bipartisan support. However, some Republicans, including Trump, who once said Putin was a genius for his invasion of Ukraine, have said the US has given Ukraine too much support and suggested it could escalate the conflict or get the US more directly involved.
For Biden and his European allies, support for Ukraine is framed as a vital part of protecting the sovereignty of the country. Russia experts have also said that stopping Russia means protecting other countries that Putin could attack.
DeSantis has previously not gone into detail on his Ukraine policy, even getting angry with a reporter earlier this month who questioned him on how it would differ from President Joe Biden’s.
“The US should not provide assistance that could require the deployment of American troops or enable Ukraine to engage in offensive operations beyond its borders,” DeSantis continued in his statement to Carlson on Monday, adding: “These moves would risk explicitly drawing the United States into the conflict and drawing us closer to a hot war between the world’s two largest nuclear powers.”
Carlson’s show had asked potential 2024 Republican presidential candidates to explain their positions on US aid to Ukraine. Those who responded also included Trump, former Vice President Mike Pence, South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, and entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy.
Many Republicans have been vocal dissenters of the country’s financial support of Ukraine. Trump loyalists like Rep. Matt Gaetz and Rep. Majorie Taylor Green have openly called for an immediate halt of US support of Ukraine during the war as recently as February.
Carlson himself previously downplayed the threat of Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine by saying Italy posed a bigger threat to the world than Russia and falsely claimed that Biden’s support of Russia was “payback for the 2016 election.”
A leaked Kremlin war memo even instructed Russian state media to feature Carlson “as much as possible” in their broadcasts, Mother Jones reported in March 2022.
However, many Republicans have also taken a stance in support of Ukraine. Former Vice President Mike Pence previously said that the US should back the war-torn country “until peace is restored.”
Prominent House Republicans Rep. Mike McCaul and Rep. Mike Turner have even called on Biden to increase existing support for Ukraine.
While Trump and DeSantis are considered frontrunners in the race, the former allies have since had a very public break up, with the former president frequently attacking the governor.
DeSantis’s office did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.
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