Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, on a national tour some suspect could be a prelude to a 2024 presidential bid, said the Biden administration is throwing money at Ukraine without stating a clear objective.
The remarks, which came in an interview on Fox News Channel’s “Fox & Friends,” marked the first time the Republican has weighed in extensively on the war in Ukraine, which the Biden administration has helped fund with nearly $200 billion in aid. Even as he spoke, President Joe Biden was in Kyiv on a surprise visit to show U.S. support for the country as it nears the one-year mark in its war with Russia.
“They have, effectively, a blank-check policy with no clear strategic objective identified,” DeSantis said of the Biden administration.
DeSantis says U.S. has no "interest" on getting involved in "proxy war," slams "blank checks" from Biden admin to Ukraine.pic.twitter.com/fmYYievPCt
— Citizen Free Press (@CitizenFreePres) February 20, 2023
DeSantis referred to recent reports from Secretary of State Antony Blinken that China, which has already sent non-lethal military aid to Russia, may be preparing to send weapons. That comes as tensions between the U.S. and China are already at a boiling point after China sent a spy balloon floating over the U.S. earlier this month.
“These things can escalate and I don’t think it’s in our interest to be getting into a proxy war with China getting involved over things like the borderlands, or over Crimea,” DeSantis said. “So I think it would behoove them to identify what is the strategic objective that they’re trying to achieve. But just saying it’s an open-ended, blank check, that is not acceptable.”
DeSantis, who served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 2013-2018 before being elected governor of Florida in 2018, said there are legitimate concerns of Russia posing a threat to NATO countries, but said it is not the military power it once was. Estimates vary, but Chairman of the Joints Chiefs Gen. Mark Milley estimated last November that Russia has lost at least 100,000 soldiers in its grueling war with Ukraine.
“They’ve shown themselves to be a third-rate military power, I think they’ve suffered tremendous, tremendous losses,” he said. “I’ve got to think the people of Russia are probably disapproving of what’s going on. I don’t think they can speak up about it, for obvious reasons.”
The real threat, DeSantis said, is posed by Russia’s erstwhile ally, China. In addition to flexing on the U.S. in recent weeks and pledging support for Russia, Beijing has also indicated it could invade Taiwan, which it claims as part of its sovereign territory.
“Russia has been really, really wounded here and I don’t think that they are the same threat to our country – even though they are hostile – I don’t think they’re on the same level as China,” DeSantis said.