DeSantis' Ukraine Stance Sees Pushback—From GOPers

Sens. Lindsey Graham, John Cornyn among those questioning Florida governor's remarks
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 15, 2023 8:58 AM CDT
DeSantis' Ukraine Stance Sees Pushback—From GOPers
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is seen following his State of the State address on March 7 at the Capitol in Tallahassee, Florida.   (AP Photo/Phil Sears, File)

On Monday, Ron DeSantis answered a questionnaire from Fox News' Tucker Carlson on the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and his remarks are now drawing pushback from his own party. "While the US has many vital national interests ... becoming further entangled in a territorial dispute between Ukraine and Russia is not one of them," DeSantis noted in a statement. "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." That answer appeared to surprise some of his Republican colleagues, including South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham.

"To say this doesn't matter is to say that war crimes don't matter," Graham told CNN. He went on to note that Russian President Vladimir Putin's aggression will "go beyond Ukraine," and "if you don't get that, you're not listening to what he's saying." He reiterated his thoughts with similar remarks on Twitter. Sen. John Cornyn of Texas also seemed confused, admitting to the news outlet he was "kind of surprised" on DeSantis' comments. "Gov. DeSantis is a veteran," Cornyn said. "He's a smart guy. ... I don't understand him saying that Ukraine isn't important to the United States." Cornyn added that DeSantis' stance "raises questions." Meanwhile, a Republican senator from DeSantis' own state took issue with the governor's categorization of the Russian invasion as a "territorial dispute."

"It's not a territorial dispute ... 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," Marco Rubio said on Hugh Hewitt's radio program. There is one prominent Republican who sides with DeSantis: former President Trump, who answered the same questionnaire and noted that helping Ukraine was in the strategic interest of Europe, but not the US. When asked what kind of funding or resources he'd be willing to send Ukraine, Trump responded, per CBS News, "That would strongly depend on my meeting with President Putin and Russia." He added: "Russia would have never attacked Ukraine if I were President, not even a small chance." (Read more Ron DeSantis stories.)

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