Pence breaks with DeSantis over Ukraine position: Putin will not stop at Ukraine

Former Vice President Mike Pence on Friday warned that it would be “wrong” to think Russian President Vladimir Putin would stop at trying to take control of Ukraine, a direct break with comments made by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R).

Pence delivered an address at the University of Texas at Austin in which he argued for the importance of U.S. support for Ukraine on the first anniversary of the war, cautioning that Russian victory in Ukraine could draw the U.S. into a broader conflict and threaten the sovereignty of NATO allies.

In an interview with NBC News after the speech, Pence was asked about DeSantis’s views: Earlier this week, the Florida governor expressed opposition to open-ended support for Ukraine while casting doubt on the prospect that Russia would seek to invade other countries.

“The fear of Russia going into NATO countries and all that and steamrolling, you know, that has not even come close to happening,” DeSantis said on Fox News.

“I would say anyone that thinks that Vladimir Putin will stop at Ukraine is wrong,” Pence told NBC News, referring to DeSantis’s earlier remarks.

“We need to understand the real long-term threat of renewed Russian aggression in Europe,” he continued. “And I hold the view that it will not stop there.”

Pence in Friday’s speech said Putin bore responsibility for the war, and he cautioned that there can be “no room in the leadership of the Republican Party for apologists for Putin.”

“Make no mistake: This is not America’s war. But if we falter in our commitment to providing the support to help people of Ukraine to defend their freedom, our sons and daughters may soon be called upon to defend ours,” Pence said. “If we surrender to the siren song of those in this country who argue that America has no interest in freedom’s cause, history teaches we may soon send our own into harm’s way.”

The former Indiana governor’s speech — meant to showcase his foreign policy credentials — comes as he is mulling a possible 2024 presidential bid, with a decision expected in the coming weeks. He has frequently visited early voting states like Iowa, South Carolina and New Hampshire.

Trump and former United Nations ambassador Nikki Haley have already announced their candidacies, with other GOP officials such as DeSantis, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) expected to make decisions about whether to run in the coming months.

Tags Mike Pence Mike Pence NBC News Ron DeSantis Ron DeSantis Russia-Ukraine war Ukraine aid Vladimir Putin Vladimir Putin

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