Ron DeSantis and the US Role in Ukraine: The Opening Fault Line of the 2024 GOP Race

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has emerged as a potential challenger to President Joe Biden in the 2024 election, and his views on the Ukraine conflict are already causing a stir. On Monday, DeSantis appeared on Fox & Friends to discuss Biden’s visit to Ukraine and the half-billion-dollar aid package he pledged to the country.[0]

DeSantis criticized the Biden administration’s “blank-check policy” for Ukraine and downplayed the threat posed by Russia to NATO allies, calling it a “third-rate military power.”[1] He also suggested that the Biden administration was neglecting to secure the US border while paying attention to borders “halfway around the world.”[2]

The Florida Governor also shifted the blame for the conflict to Biden, stating that it would not have happened “but for the weakness that the President showed during his first year in office, culminating, of course, in the disastrous withdrawal in Afghanistan.”

DeSantis has also argued that while Russia is “hostile,” China is the bigger threat, and there are reports that China is considering sending lethal aid to Russia in the war against Ukraine.[3] This position has drawn criticism from both Democrats and Republicans, with some accusing him of being a Russian stooge and others suggesting he is pandering to Trump’s base.[4]

A gulf between opinions on the US involvement in Ukraine is one of the first points of contention in the Republican presidential race that is just beginning to unfold – and could grow into a heated issue when the Republican primary debates start in the months to come.[5] New York Magazine’s Jon Chait concluded, “Vladimir Putin has built his strategy on the assumption that he can keep throwing conscripts into the trenches of eastern Ukraine longer than the United States is willing to keep sending money and arms to Kyiv.[0] Putin’s main hope has rested on Donald Trump returning to office in 2025.[0] Now he has a second option should Trump falter in the primary.[0] The odds that Putin will end the war just got longer.[0]

0. “The problem(s) with Ron DeSantis’ flawed foreign policy vision” MSNBC, 21 Feb. 2023,

1. “DeSantis downplays Russia as a global threat after Biden’s visit to Kyiv: ‘I think they’ve shown themselves to” Business Insider India, 21 Feb. 2023,

2. “GOP 2024 hopefuls divided over US role in Ukraine war” CNN, 22 Feb. 2023,

3. “DeSantis downplays Russia threat, calls it ‘third-rate military power'” Business Insider, 21 Feb. 2023,

4. “”Florida Governor Ron DeSantis Goes Full Trump on Ukraine, Raises Concerns Among Experts” – Boca Raton’s Most …” The Boca Raton Tribune, 22 Feb. 2023,

5. “DeSantis and Haley highlight GOP’s 2024 chasm on Ukraine” The Washington Post, 21 Feb. 2023,

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