DeSantis Calls Putin A "War Criminal" While Walking Back ‘Territorial Dispute’ Remark On Ukraine

The governor of Florida, Ron DeSantis, has stated that his statement that the crisis in Ukraine was merely a "territorial issue" was "mischaracterized." The full interview with TV host Piers Morgan, in which the prospective Republican presidential nominee insisted that Russia was "wrong" to "take over Crimea" and attack Ukraine, will air on Friday.

Earlier this month, DeSantis told Fox News anchor Tucker Carlson that “becoming further embroiled in a territorial conflict between Ukraine and Russia” is not one of the many “vital national interests” of the US. The governor attacked the Biden administration's "virtual 'blank check' funding' for Kiev without any objectives or accountability" and suggested that the US should not send F-16 fighter jets, long-range missiles, or American troops to Ukraine.

Republican party members including Senators Lindsey Graham and Marco Rubio, who accused the Florida governor of misinterpreting the situation and downplaying the matter, were among those who criticized DeSantis' remarks.

Nevertheless, in his conversation with Morgan, DeSantis clarified that his remarks had been misinterpreted and that he had been explicitly referring to Donbass and Crimea.

There are many Russians of ethnicity there, he remarked. "Well that's some tough battling, and that's what I was talking about," the speaker said. He also indicated that he does not believe that Russia has the power to take over Ukraine, overturn its government or threaten NATO, which is why he doesn’t see the war as severe enough for the US to intensify its involvement.

When questioned by Morgan about his remark about a "territorial issue," DeSantis maintained his belief that Ukraine "has the rights to that region." “If I could click my fingers, I’d give it back to Ukraine 100%,” the governor stated. Yet he stressed that worsening the situation with more weapons and troop deployments "would be a mistake" on the part of the United States.

While it is commonly assumed that DeSantis will vie for the US presidency in the 2024 elections, the governor has yet to officially announce his plans. Polls have showed him to be the main alternative to former US president Donald Trump, as the two have gone neck to neck in previous matchup surveys. According to the most recent Yahoo/YouGov poll from March, DeSantis is currently losing ground to Trump, 39% to 47%, after leading by 45% to 41% in February.

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