(DailyVantage.com) – Republican Florida Governor Ron DeSantis attacked Russian President Vladimir Putin in an interview with Piers Morgan, calling him a war criminal and a nuclear-armed gas station.
After DeSantis was accused by some conservatives of being too soft on the Russia-Ukraine conflict, the governor attempted to position himself as more of a hawkish critic of Russia during his interview with Morgan.
While DeSantis noted the nuances of the conflict and pointed out that there were a lot of Russian speakers in both Crimea and eastern Ukraine, he said it was a “nonsense” idea that Russia was justified in its invasion of Ukraine.
DeSantis argued that Ukraine had a “right” to both Crimea and the eastern regions of Donetsk and Luhansk — which were officially annexed by Russia in September 2022 following local referendums — and said he would give Crimea back to Ukraine “100%” if the choice were his to make.
He also warned, however, that the United States should not escalate its involvement in the war or risk the deployment of American troops on Ukrainian soil.
On the topic of Putin himself, DeSantis called the Russian president a “war criminal” and claimed he was “basically a gas station with a bunch of nuclear weapons” — paraphrasing the late Republican Arizona Senator John McCain who controversially described Russia as “a gas station masquerading as a country” in 2014.
Earlier in March 2023, DeSantis received criticism after appearing to tell Fox News’ Tucker Carlson that the defense of Ukraine was not of vital US interest. In his own statement, former President Donald Trump also said Ukraine was not of vital strategic importance to the US.
DeSantis, who is expected to challenge Trump in the 2024 Republican primaries, has found himself slipping in the polls in recent weeks following a series of attacks from Trump insinuating that the Florida governor was a neoconservative and backed by the establishment.
Following news of DeSantis’ interview with Morgan, Trump criticized both men, ridiculing DeSantis’ “failing campaign” and Morgan’s television ratings.
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