Top Republicans bash DeSantis for calling Ukraine war a territorial dispute: 'Obviously, he doesn't deal with foreign policy'

1 week ago 45
  • Ron DeSantis called the Ukraine war a "territorial dispute" and said it's not a "vital" US interest.
  • The comments, making clear his position on Ukraine going into 2024, are eliciting strong pushback.
  • "Obviously, he doesn't deal with foreign policy every day as governor," said Florida Sen. Marco Rubio.

Loading Something is loading.

Thanks for signing up!

Access your favorite topics in a personalized feed while you're on the go.

The Republican Party is once again in a war of words with itself over the war in Ukraine — this time because of Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida.

In a statement submitted to Tucker Carlson's Fox News show, DeSantis said that the war in Ukraine was not among the United States' "many vital national interests," adding that "becoming further entangled in a territorial dispute between Ukraine and Russia is not one of them."

"The Biden administration's virtual 'blank check' funding of this conflict for 'as long as it takes,' without any defined objectives or accountability, distracts from our country's most pressing challenges," said DeSantis.

That statement is the clearest statement yet by DeSantis of the approach he would take to Ukraine ahead of an expected 2024 presidential campaign, despite previously expressing support for aid to the country.

His comments quickly elicited pushback from other Republicans, both for his characterization of the conflict as a "territorial dispute" and for suggesting that defending Ukraine is not a vital national interest.

"Well, it's not a territorial dispute in the sense that any more than it would be a territorial dispute if the United States decided that it wanted to invade Canada or take over the Bahamas," said Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida on conservative commentator Hugh Hewitt's radio show, according to a transcript. "Just because someone claims something doesn't mean it belongs to them. This is an invasion."

Rubio went on to say that "foreign policy is about nuance" while taking pains not to criticize DeSantis directly.

"Well, I don't know what he's trying to do or what the goal is," said Rubio. "Obviously, he doesn't deal with foreign policy every day as governor."

Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, a staunch proponent of foreign intervention and US support for Ukraine, writing three different tweet threads on the topic in an apparent response to DeSantis.

"To those who believe that Russia's unprovoked and barbaric invasion of Ukraine is not a priority for the United States — you are missing a lot," he wrote in one tweet.

—Lindsey Graham (@LindseyGrahamSC) March 14, 2023

And Republican Sen. John Cornyn of Texas told POLITICO that he was "disturbed" by DeSantis' statement.

"I think he's a smart guy," said Cornyn. "I want to find out more about it, but I hope he feels like he doesn't need to take that Tucker Carlson line to be competitive in the primary."

The Florida Governor's comments on Ukraine bring his position more in line with Republicans such as former President Donald Trump, who have generally advocated for reducing American involvement in the region.

But Republicans in Congress, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, have remained strong supporters of US aid to Ukraine.

"Let me start by saying: I am a conservative Republican from America, and I come in peace," McConnell said at a recent security forum in Europe. "Reports about the death of Republican support for strong American leadership in the world have been greatly exaggerated."

Read Entire Article