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Rubio pushes back on DeSantis remarks: Russia-Ukraine war 'not a territorial dispute'

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said on Tuesday that the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war is not a “territorial dispute,” pushing back against remarks made by his home-state Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) on the matter. 

In a questionnaire sent out by Fox News personality Tucker Carlson to potential 2024 presidential candidates, DeSantis said “becoming further entangled in a territorial dispute between Ukraine and Russia” was not among the United States’ “vital national interests.”

During an appearance on the “Hugh Hewitt Show” on Tuesday, Rubio was asked about those remarks from DeSantis.

“Well, 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,” Rubio told Hewitt during Tuesday’s episode. “Just because someone claims something doesn’t mean it belongs to them.” 

Rubio told Hewitt that Russia’s ultimate goal is to take out Ukraine’s government and control the country, adding that the war should not be compared to other conflicts or territorial disputes settled with treaties and peace agreements. 

“So it’s really more of a desire to dominate their neighbor, have them as part of their sphere of influence, not so much of it about the land,” Rubio said.

DeSantis, who is widely seen as a leading contender for the GOP’s 2024 presidential nomination, had previously blasted the Biden administration’s aid to Ukraine as a “blank-check policy” and played down the threat that Russia poses to NATO member countries in Europe.

“These things can escalate. And I don’t think it’s in our interest to be getting into a proxy war with China getting involved over things like the borderlands or over Crimea,” DeSantis said on “Fox & Friends” last month.

His response to Carlson’s questionnaire struck a similar tone.

“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 said in the questionnaire. 

Last month marked a full year since Russia invaded Ukraine, starting a war that has resulted in thousands of civilian deaths, tens of thousands of military casualties on both sides and the displacement of more than 8.1 million Ukrainian citizens.

The U.S. has sent billions of dollars in military and humanitarian aid to Ukraine in an effort to help the country survive and fend off Russian forces.

The Biden administration is now facing pressure from Ukrainian officials and U.S. lawmakers to send over F-16 fighter jets, a move the president has so far opposed.

Source: The Hill

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