DeSantis calls Putin a ‘war criminal’ and gas station with nukes

  • Florida Governor Ron DeSantis called the Russian-Ukrainian war a “territorial dispute” last week.
  • Asked about the comment, DeSantis said invading Russia was “evil” and that Putin was a “war criminal”.
  • Piers Morgan’s interview with DeSantis, a potential 2024 contestant, is set to air Thursday.

After drawing criticism from fellow Republicans last week, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis used some of his harshest words yet for Russian President Vladimir Putin and the invasion of Ukraine.

In an interview with Piers Morgan to air Thursday on Fox Nation, DeSantis called Putin a “war criminal” and said he should be “held accountable,” according to excerpts from the interview published in the New York Post. .

“I think he’s hostile to the United States, but I think what we’ve seen is he doesn’t have the conventional ability to achieve his ambitions,” DeSantis said of Putin. “And so it’s basically a gas station with a bunch of nuclear weapons and one of the things we could do better is use our own energy resources in the United States.”

DeSantis, considered a top contender for the GOP presidential nomination in 2024, said the way to impact Putin was through energy, such as authorizing gas pipelines in Alaska. The comment echoed a remark made by the late Republican Senator John McCain, who in 2014 from the Senate floor said Russia was “a gas station masquerading as a country.” GOP Senator Lindsey Graham agreed, calling Russia “an oil and gas company.”

DeSantis’ comments come after he downplayed US interest in the war, calling it a “territorial dispute” between Russia and Ukraine.

“While the United States has many vital national interests – securing our borders, resolving our military’s readiness crisis, ensuring energy security and independence, and controlling the Chinese Communist Party’s economic, cultural and military might – s ‘further entangling in a territory Ukraine-Russia dispute is not one of them,’ DeSantis said in a statement to Fox News.

Since Russia’s invasion in February last year, the United States has provided Ukraine with billions of dollars in military aid, which has enjoyed bipartisan support. Republicans like Graham and Senator Marco Rubio have chastised DeSantis’ characterization of war.

Asked about his “territorial dispute” comment, DeSantis told Morgan that his remarks had been “misinterpreted”, adding that “obviously” Russia had invaded last year, as well as Crimea in 2014, and had ” wrong” to do so.

“What I’m referring to is where the fighting is happening right now, which is this eastern border region of Donbass and then Crimea,” DeSantis said, adding that he could have clarified to what he was referring to.

DeSantis added, “I think the biggest point is, okay, Russia is not showing the ability to take over Ukraine, to overthrow the government, or certainly to threaten NATO. That’s a good thing. I just don’t think that’s enough interest for us to step up our involvement.”

He said the idea that he thought Russia was “justified” in invading Ukraine was “nonsense”.

A representative for DeSantis did not immediately respond to Insider’s requests for comment.


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