DeSantis downplays Russia threat after Biden visit


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Russia tried to freeze Europe by curtailing gas supplies this winter, though the continent has so far managed to get through the season with a combination of planning and luck, POLITICO previously reported.

The war also prompted Finland and Sweden to apply to join NATO, the Western military alliance. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Monday urged the expansion to be accepted, speaking in Turkey — one of the holdout states for ratification. Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin said last month she believed that Ukraine would not have been invaded if her country had been a member of NATO.

DeSantis, who is considered a likely candidate for the Republican presidential nomination next year, criticized Biden and his administration for visiting Ukraine instead of focusing on other priorities.

“He’s very concerned about those borders halfway around the world. He’s not done anything to secure our own border here at home,” DeSantis said, referring to the southern border.

Rep. David Kustoff (R-Tenn.), while giving “kudos” to Biden for visiting Ukraine, suggested the president should have instead visited the site of this month’s toxic train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio.

“There are a lot of people here in the U.S. that would say he probably should have gone to Ohio and visited with the people who have been afflicted by the derailment first,” Kustoff said on Fox Business, also criticizing the amount of spending on aid to Ukraine.

Russia’s incursion into Ukraine, led by President Vladimir Putin, has prompted fears within the Baltic states — Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania — about further invasion if Ukraine falls. Russia has already threatened Moldova, a neighboring country to Ukraine.

Moldova’s pro-European Union government resigned this month following pressure from Russia, though its Parliament soon approved another pro-Western prime minister. Moldovan President Maia Sandu said earlier this month that Russia wanted to stage a coup in her country; Zelenskyy said days earlier that Russia planned to “destroy” Moldova.

Biden visited Kyiv on Monday morning to show solidarity, a surprise appearance marking the anniversary since Russia invaded on Feb. 24, 2022. In an address with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, Biden also announced a new half-billion-dollar weapons package to Ukraine.

The administration has “no clear strategic objective identified” as it provides aid, DeSantis said.

“And I don’t think it’s in our interest to be getting into proxy war with China, getting involved over things like the borderlands or over Crimea,” he said. While Russia is “hostile,” he said, China poses a bigger threat.

The Biden administration has repeatedly disputed the idea that it is providing blank checks to Ukraine.

“There’s been no blank checks,” National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby said this week on Fox’s “Fox News Sunday.” “Every single item that we have sent in to Ukraine has been done in full consultation with the Congress.”

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