Mike Pence, the former Vice President of the United States, called out Donald Trump and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, questioning their understanding of U.S. interests in supporting Ukraine in its military standoff with Russia.
Speaking to the Associated Press (AP), Pence asserted that both the former president and the governor don’t understand America’s national interest in defending Ukraine against Russian aggression.
“With all due respect I think the former president and the governor of Florida just don’t understand Americans’ national interest in supporting the Ukrainian military in repelling the Russian military in Ukraine,” Pence said. “Make no mistake, China is watching.”
The U.S. government has approved billions in military aid to Ukraine, but many Americans oppose excessive aid to a foreign nation. Among them is Trump who leads the pack of Republican presidential primary contenders, while DeSantis trails in second place.
Pence, who recently visited Ukraine, said that “if we don’t give the Ukrainian military what they need to defeat and repel the Russian invasion, I’m convinced that the second half of the 21st century will look a great deal more like the first half of the 20th century.”
The former Vice President flatly dismissed calls for deploying U.S. troops to Ukraine. But he warned that a Russian victory in Ukraine might eventually pose a treat to NATO countries, ultimately requiring the U.S. to respond with military assistance.
“I think we need to stand firm, stand strong. I’m going to do that while others may be giving way to a more populist sentiment,” Pence said.
Meanwhile, the Governor of Florida has yet to make a public statement on his position towards Ukraine.
“My view is the same as my president, I stand with him,” said DeSantis on Fox News. “But the bottom line is that we need to take a stronger line here and show our strength and resolve in this situation.”
For his part, Trump said he is “glad to see the U.S. supporting Ukraine in its defense” but stopped short of specifying a preferred course of action for the current diplomatic crisis.
It remains to be seen whether Trump and DeSantis’ understanding of national interests in Ukraine will influence upcoming presidential elections, where Pence is a candidate. One thing is sure: U.S. foreign policy towards Ukraine matters not only for the region’s stability and security, but also for the nation’s credibility and standing in the world.
It is absolutely essential that United States continue to provide military support to the Ukrainian military to push back on Russian aggression. If Russia were able to overrun Ukraine, it would not be long before Putin ordered his troops over a border, that under NATO, we would… pic.twitter.com/tVQBG67BfS
— Mike Pence (@Mike_Pence) July 2, 2023