Explainer: How GOP is splitting apart on Ukraine

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STORY: The 2024 Republican presidential race could become a contest between isolationists and foreign policy hawks after Florida Governor Ron DeSantis this week sent his strongest signal yet he does not believe support for Ukraine is in the U.S. national interest….

The outcome of the debate could shape how the party engages with the world for years to come.

[The isolationists]

On the one side are former President Donald Trump and DeSantis.

Although the governor has not yet officially declared himself a candidate, he and Trump are the clear front runners in the Republican race.

Both have dismissed U.S. support for Ukraine and other allies as a waste of resources and said that leaders should pay more attention to issues at home.

In a response to a questionnaire on Ukraine from Fox News’ Tucker Carlson, DeSantis replied: “While the U.S. has many vital national interests ... becoming further entangled in a territorial dispute between Ukraine and Russia is not one of them.”

[ The ‘hawks’]

On the other side, a slew of declared and likely GOP challengers, as well as party stalwarts, who portray themselves as steadfast defenders of Ukraine and willing to stand up to U.S. foes including Russia and China.

We'll stand with our allies from Israel to Ukraine and stand up to our enemies in Iran and Russia.

NIKKI HALEY: "We'll stand with our allies from Israel to Ukraine and stand up to our enemies in Iran and Russia. "

In response to DeSantis’ comments to Carlson, former UN Ambassador and GOP presidential hopeful Nikki Haley wrote in a statement that “America is far better off with a Ukrainian victory.”

Republican senators Marco Rubio and Lindsey Graham, both former presidential candidates, also criticized DeSantis’ comments.

"When it comes to Putin, you either pay now or pay later," Graham wrote on Twitter.

[The voters]

Republican voters are caught in the middle.

Source: Reuters/Ipsos polling

Fifty-five percent of Republicans said the U.S. should support democratic countries when they are attacked by non-democratic nations.

And when asked…. should the United States continue sending weapons to Ukraine? Self-identified Republicans were split, 50-50.

[What now?]

Overall, support among Americans for providing military aid to Ukraine has waned… falling to 58 percent in February from 73 percent in April 2022.

It's a trend being watched closely by Kyiv.

With one former Pentagon official telling Reuters… Ukraine’s ability to fight Russia depends on consistent support ---in weapons and training --- from Washington and its NATO allies.

President Joe Biden insists his administration’s position on Ukraine is unwavering… And it’s a fight that must be won.