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DeSantis says protecting Ukraine is not a 'vital national interest' for US

The Florida governor said the U.S. should instead focus on securing our borders, achieving energy security and checking the "power of the Chinese Communist Party."

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — As anticipation for a 2024 presidential bid builds, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis took a public stance on Russia's invasion of Ukraine that broke with many of his fellow Republicans.

In a statement to Fox News host Tucker Carlson, DeSantis said protecting Ukraine was not a "vital national interest," adding that the U.S. should instead focus on issues at home.

“While the U.S. has many vital national interests – securing our borders, addressing the crisis of readiness within 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," the governor wrote in the statement shared on Carlson's Twitter page.

In his primetime show "Tucker Carlson Tonight," the conservative television host explained that DeSantis' response was part of a Ukraine-focused questionnaire sent to "every potential 2024 GOP presidential candidate."

DeSantis' response notably differs from common GOP rhetoric that President Joe Biden is not doing enough to support Ukraine against Russia's attacks. It's also at odds with statements from other potential presidential candidates, like Chris Christie and Mike Pence, who vowed to defend Ukraine. 

"When the United States supports Ukraine in their fight against Putin, we follow the Reagan doctrine, and we support those who fight our enemies on their shores, so we will not have to fight them ourselves," Pence's statement read, in part.

DeSantis' stance more closely aligns with that of Former President Donald Trump, who also said that opposing Russia was not of vital national interest and argued that aid for Ukraine should come from Europe rather than the U.S.

The Florida governor's recent statement also contradicts statements he made back in 2015 after Russia zeroed in on Ukraine with its invasion and subsequent annexation of Crimea.

“We in the Congress have been urging the president, I’ve been, to provide arms to Ukraine. They want to fight their good fight. They’re not asking us to fight it for them. And the president has steadfastly refused. And I think that that’s a mistake,” DeSantis told conservative talk radio host Bill Bennett in 2015, according to CNN.

“I think that when someone like Putin sees Obama being indecisive, I think that whets his appetite to create more trouble in the area. And I think if we were to arm the Ukrainians, I think that would send a strong signal to him that he shouldn’t be going any further,” he added.

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