Schumer slams DeSantis for saying Ukraine war not in ‘vital’ national interest
Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Wednesday criticized Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) for minimizing the Russian invasion of Ukraine as a “territorial dispute” that does not rise to the level of a “vital national interest.”
Schumer said the comment is part of a broader trend among what he called “the hard right” of “excusing” Russian President Vladimir Putin and “not even daring to condemn him.”
“One Republican governor in particular said yesterday that defending Ukraine and opposing Putin is not a vital national interest,” Schumer said on the floor, referring to DeSantis.
“He called Putin’s illegal and unprovoked invasion of another sovereign democracy ‘a territorial dispute.’ He basically thinks the U.S. is wrong to support Ukraine as they fight and die to protect their democracy, and he’s certainly not alone in thinking that on the hard right,” he said.
The floor remarks came in response to a statement DeSantis made to Fox News host minimizing the national security interest in supporting Ukraine in its fight against Russia.
“While the U.S. has many vital national interests — securing our borders, addressing the crisis of readiness within our military, achieving energy security and independence, and checking the economic, cultural, and military power of the Chinese Communist Party — becoming further entangled in a territorial dispute between Ukraine and Russia is not one of them,” DeSantis told Carlson.
Schumer noted DeSantis made the statement on the same day a Russian jet fighter forced down a U.S. drone over the Black Sea, which the National Security Council condemned as “reckless.”
Schumer said DeSantis’s reluctance to stand up to Russian aggression raises questions about how he might have responded to the rise of fascism in the 1930s if he held office before World War II.
“I have to wonder what he would have thought if he was around in the 1930s. We know what happened then when many refused to stand up to aggression, a world war resulted. Sadly, these remarks are not unique within the GOP,” the Democratic leader said.
Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) has repeatedly asserted that helping Ukraine defeat the Russian invasion falls squarely within vital U.S. interests.
After meeting with NATO allies at the Munich Security Conference last month, McConnell argued on the floor that security assistance to Ukraine is “degrading Russia’s ability to further threaten Europe or threaten America” and sends “a powerful deterrent signal to other potential aggressors.”
But Schumer on Wednesday warned about what he views as the rising influence of isolationists within the Republican Party.
“For years an isolationist fever has been surging within the hard right, propagated night after night on networks like Fox News. The hard right’s isolationism is dangerous, it is un-American, undemocratic, and it is woefully blind to the lessons of history,” Schumer said.
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