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DeSantis gets tough on Putin after criticism from Republicans


Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (right) has called Russian President Vladimir Putin a ‘war criminal’, marking a hardening of his stance against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine after coming under fire last week by fellow Republicans for calling the dispute a “territorial dispute”.

In an interview with ‘Piers Morgan Uncensored,’ set to air Thursday on Fox Nation, the potential presidential candidate clarified that he totally opposes Putin’s invasion, aligning himself more closely with other Republicans. – and distancing himself from previous comments which he said had been “mischaracterized”.

“Obviously Russia invaded (last year) – that was wrong,” DeSantis said, according to a preview of the interview in a column published Wednesday in the New York Post. “Russia had no right to go to Crimea or to go there in February 2022 and that should be clear.”

The latest statements from DeSantis, who has yet to announce his candidacy for president, highlight the growing division within the GOP over how Washington should respond to the Russian invasion and the amount of US aid to help. Ukraine in the ongoing war.

Last week, DeSantis came under fire from members of his own party for portraying the war as “a territorial dispute between Ukraine and Russia,” in which it was not in Washington’s interest to s entangle more. DeSantis’ comments echoed the position of former President Donald Trump, who said opposing Russia is a key interest for Europe, “but not for the United States.”

The flurry of criticism highlighted the potential for Ukraine to become a key dividing line between Republican presidential candidates ahead of the 2024 election. In comments released last week, Trump argued that both sides should broker a deal and said opposing Russia was not a vital U.S. national interest.

DeSantis dismisses Russian invasion of Ukraine as ‘territorial dispute’

Former Vice President Mike Pence, weighing a 2024 presidential campaign, rejected DeSantis’ original characterization of the war in Ukraine, telling ABC News, “It’s a Russian invasion. This is just the latest instance of Russia trying to redraw international lines by force.

Republican ‘civil war’ on Ukraine erupts as Reagan’s example fades

In Thursday’s interview, DeSantis took direct aim at Putin, according to a clip. “He’s a war criminal,” DeSantis said. “I think he should be held accountable.” He was referring to last week’s decision by the International Criminal Court to issue an arrest warrant for the Russian leader. The court charged Putin with war crimes for the “unlawful deportation” and “unlawful transfer” of children from occupied areas of Ukraine.

In previous comments by DeSantis, he said the United States “cannot prioritize intervening in an escalating foreign war over defending our own homeland, especially as Tens of thousands of Americans die each year from narcotics smuggled through our open border and our weapons arsenals.” criticisms for our own safety are quickly running out.

DeSantis also said Washington should not provide Kiev with any military assistance that would allow Ukraine to launch offensives beyond its borders, excluding sending F-16 fighter jets or long-range missiles.

DeSantis’ comments last week also contrasted with his own words and actions when he was a congressman from Florida. In 2014, DeSantis voted for a Ukraine aid package and backed a 2015 resolution that called on Russia to withdraw from Ukraine while allowing security aid for Kiev.

The DeSantis campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

While DeSantis’ change in tone will likely be welcomed by his Republican critics, he opened it up to more criticism Thursday from Democrats.

“DeSantis stumbling over this response clearly shows that he is overwhelmed,” the Democratic National Committee said in a statement.

The statement included a backlash against his earlier comments from several Senate Republicans, including John Cornyn (Texas), Lindsey O. Graham (SC), Marco Rubio (Florida) and Roger Wicker (Miss.).

Leo Sands, John Wagner, Dan Lamothe and Meryl Kornfield contributed to this report.


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