WASHINGTON — Divisions are growing within the Republican Party over how much the United States should support Ukraine in its opposition to Russian troops trying to seize much of the country’s territory.
While leading Republicans in Washington broadly support the US effort, there are growing dissenting voices within the party.
This week, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis became the latest influential Republican to propose easing support for Ukraine. Many expect him to seek the party’s nomination in the 2024 presidential election.
“While the United States has many vital national interests – protecting our borders, resolving the readiness crisis of our armed forces, achieving energy security and independence, containing the economic, cultural and military might of the Communist Party Chinese – further involvement in the territorial dispute between Ukraine and Russia is not one of them,” he said.
The governor said U.S. engagement with Ukraine “distracts” from other serious issues. He condemned the Biden administration for “writing a blank cheque” to Kiev and criticized the “regime change” policy towards Russia, although the Biden administration says it does not.
Former US President Donald Trump, who has announced he will run for office next year, has previously expressed extreme skepticism about US involvement in Ukraine’s affairs.
Trump called for immediate negotiations to end the conflict, insisting that the war would not have started if he was in the White House and that he could negotiate an immediate peace.
“If I were president, this terrible war would be over in 24 hours or less,” he wrote.
Other Republicans who are potential presidential candidates or have already announced so have spoken out in favor of continued support for Ukraine.
Former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, who served as US ambassador to the UN under Trump, said last week in Iowa that it was “absolutely necessary” to give Ukraine the equipment she needs to defend herself.
“If we win this war, it will send a signal to China, it will send a signal to Iran, it will send a signal to Korea. It will send a signal to Russia,” said Haley, who announced his intention to run last month. “If we lose this war, we will have to take the dictators at their word. They said Poland and the Baltics would be next, and you would assess the prospect of a world war.”
DeSantis’ words about Ukraine have drawn controversy and even outright condemnation from top Republican officials in Congress.
Senator John Cornyn commented on DeSantis’ position in an interview with Politico.
“It worries me,” he said. “It is important that we continue to support Ukrainians for our own safety.”
Senator Lindsey Graham tweeted, “If anyone thinks an unprovoked and barbaric invasion of Ukraine isn’t a priority for the United States, they’re missing out.”