Ron DeSantis Sparks GOP Rift Over Ukraine War: Senators Push Back Against Presidential Hopeful’s Comments

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is throwing his hat into the ring for the 2024 presidential election and has issued a statement on the war in Ukraine, which has exposed a key fault line in the Republican Party. DeSantis has argued that protecting Ukraine from Russian aggression is not a “vital” national interest, sparking backlash from traditional GOP hawks and conservative pro-Israel foreign policy experts.[0]

Several Republican senators have pushed back on DeSantis’s comments, saying that empowering Russia would be bad for U.S. and global security.[1] “It’s not a territorial dispute in the sense that any more than it would be a territorial dispute if the United States decided that it wanted to invade Canada or take over the Bahamas,” said Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL).[2] Claiming something does not imply ownership; this is an encroachment.[2]

DeSantis has suggested that the U.S. should prioritize securing its borders and addressing the crisis of readiness with its military over intervening in Ukraine.[3] “We cannot prioritize intervention in an escalating foreign war over the defense of our own homeland, especially as tens of thousands of Americans are dying every year from narcotics smuggled across our open border and our weapons arsenals critical for our own security are rapidly being depleted,” he said.[4]

However, President Joe Biden has made supporting Ukraine a key part of his administration’s foreign policy, vowing that the United States would stand by the country “as long it takes.”[4] So far, the U.S. government has allocated over $112 billion in military and economic aid for Ukraine.[5]

Sen. Mike Rounds (R-SD) has called for those interested in running for president to get a full briefing on the issue before making up their minds. “It’s something that I think any one of the individuals who has an interest in working as the next president of the United States really needs to get a full briefing before they decide to make up their minds on this particular issue,” he said.

Cynics have speculated that DeSantis’s recent emergence as a culture warrior is an attempt to appeal to both Trump supporters and those who have had enough of the 45th president.[6]

0. “DeSantis’ Ukraine flip alarms pro-Israel Republicans” Jewish Insider, 15 Mar. 2023,

1. “A Republican ‘civil war’ on Ukraine erupts as Reagan’s example fades” The Washington Post, 15 Mar. 2023,

2. “Republican senators push back on DeSantis’ Ukraine remarks” NBC News, 15 Mar. 2023,

3. “DeSantis has already made the GOP primary all about him” CNN, 16 Mar. 2023,

4. “US Republican DeSantis calls Ukraine war a ‘territorial dispute’” Al Jazeera English, 14 Mar. 2023,

5. “Ron DeSantis says backing Ukraine is not in the U.S. interest, a sign of a GOP divided” NPR, 14 Mar. 2023,

6. “DeSantis’s Ukraine Stance Could Blow Up His 2024 Strategy” New York Magazine, 16 Mar. 2023,

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