DeSantis wrong on Ukraine war implications, importance | Opinion

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Governor Ron DeSantis’s comments concerning continued American support for Ukraine on stage at the third Republican primary debate in his home state of Florida represent a disappointing lack of leadership. DeSantis said he would refuse to provide additional aid to Ukraine while citing fallacies and half-truths about the United States’ efforts to aid Ukraine.

Governor DeSantis’s proposed reorientation of U.S. foreign policy towards countering China should not overshadow the urgent need to address Russian aggression in Europe. In fact, the two are intrinsically tied. First, Russia is the biggest country in Asia, and it’s relying on Iran and North Korea for military aid. Countering this axis of evil should be core to our Asia policy.

If America ended support to Ukraine, Ukraine could fall to Russia, with a subsequent Russian attack on a NATO ally, such as Poland, Lithuania or Finland, imminent.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis during the Republican National Committee presidential primary debate in Miami this month.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis during the Republican National Committee presidential primary debate in Miami this month.

And while Governor DeSantis narrows his focus on threats posed by dictatorial leaders in the Indo-Pacific region, he neglects to recognize that China is watching the U.S.’ response closely. And don’t take my word for it: Taiwan’s representative to the U.S. says in no uncertain terms that “Ukraine’s success in defending against aggression is so important also for Taiwan.” Taiwan knows that China would take advantage of a Russian victory in Europe by trying to do the same thing—why doesn’t Governor DeSantis?

Governor DeSantis’s comments make it clear that he does not fully comprehend the situation. This is illustrated by his call for “no blank check for Ukraine.”

To be clear, Ukraine is not receiving a blank check from the United States. The transfer of weapons and equipment to Ukraine has largely been executed under the Presidential Drawdown Authority (PDA), which enables the United States to draw from existing stockpiles for immediate delivery during crises.

More: Florida Republicans DeSantis and Rubio go opposite directions on help for Ukraine

Supplemental aid packages have allocated $25.93 billion to restore the stocks depleted under PDA. While the military aid Ukraine has received has not been enough to eject Russia’s invasion forces, Ukraine has shown promise in the successful counteroffensives to liberate the Kyiv, Kharkiv, and Kherson regions. When America gives Ukrainian forces the tools they need to win, victory is attainable.

Investing in a Ukrainian victory now is crucial to reducing long-term conflict costs. Recent polls indicate ongoing public support for aiding Ukraine, with a majority of voters recognizing the importance of standing against Russian aggression.

national poll shows that public support for Ukraine aid continues, with 60 percent of U.S. voters believing that America’s allies and enemies would view a U.S. withdrawal of Ukraine military support as a sign of weakness. Sixty-eight percent believe a Russian victory over Ukraine would make the world less stable, and 84 percent say Putin is a threat to American interests.

Upon learning that only a small fraction of the U.S. annual defense budget has enabled Ukraine to decimate Russia’s military capabilities, polling shows there was a significant increase in support for Ukraine funding among self-identified MAGA Republican voters.

Russia’s ambitions extend far beyond Ukraine, posing a considerable threat to Europe and, by extension, American interests. Governor DeSantis knows this. But he argues that Europe needs to “step up and do their fair share” falls short. Contrary to DeSantis’s claims, European nations have committed more than double the support compared to the United States.

America currently ranks 20th in GDP percentage contributed to Ukraine. In fact, the U.S. has only contributed three percent of the U.S. military budget — and with this, Ukraine has managed to cut Putin’s combat capacity in half.

Yes, Governor – we do need to bring this war to an end. But letting Russia keep territory it invaded is a betrayal of American interests and a victory for Putin and Xi. Without a clear Ukrainian victory against Russia’s invasion, the war will only drag on for years or decades to come, and returning peace to Europe will require even more costly American commitments.

Mykola Murskyj is the Director of Advocacy at Razom for Ukraine

This article originally appeared on Palm Beach Post: DeSantis shows no leadership on Ukraine position