A senior Republican senator says the clash that led a U.S. drone to be brought down in the Black Sea after a clash with a Russian military pilot probes Vladimir Putin is a ‘threat’ in remarks that appear to be a rebuke to Republican Ron DeSantis.
Wicker made the comments in a statement Tuesday, hours after Fox opinion host Tucker Carlson revealed the Florida governor’s comments calling Russia’s war on Ukraine a ‘territorial dispute’ that was not a vital U.S. security interest.
DeSantis was distancing himself from more establishment Republicans like Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell who have been firm backers of Ukraine.
Wicker, who is a leading McConnell lieutenant as chair of the powerful Senate Armed Services Committee and counsel to the leader, hit back at ‘isolationists,’ and called the incident over the Black Sea a ‘wake-up call.’
It all came after the U.S. summoned Moscow’s ambassador to Washington after the Pentagon said a pair of Russian Su-27 fighter jets engaged in ‘unsafe and unprofessional intercept’ by intercepting the 66-foot U.S. drone over international waters, dumped fuel on it, and collided with it, forcing the U.S. to bring it down.
Senator Roger Wicker (R-MS), who chairs the Senate Armed Services Committee, said Russian planes that collided with a U.S. drone ‘should serve as a wake-up call to isolationists in the United States’ – after Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said Ukraine’s war against Russia is not a ‘vital national security interest’
‘This brazen act by Russian pilots against an American aircraft flying in international airspace makes clear that Vladimir Putin is an adversary,’ Wicker said. ‘This incident should serve as a wake-up call to isolationists in the United States that it is in our national interest to treat Putin as the threat he truly is.’
He continued: ‘Putin wants nothing more than for incidents like these to push the United States away from our support of Ukraine and prevent us from rolling back his destructive policies. We must choose to project strength against our adversary, not appease this dictator with words or so-called ‘de-escalation.’
Wicker did not identify which ‘isolationists’ he was referring to, and polls have shown growing fatigue in particular among Republicans with U.S. efforts to send billions to arm Ukraine.
It came after DeSantis said that Ukraine’s war against Russia is not a ‘vital national security interest’ for the U.S., in comments where he called the war a ‘territorial dispute.’
Wicker issued a statement calling Russia an ‘adversary’ and warning against appeasement
The Pentagon said two Russian Su-27 fighter jets engaged in ‘unsafe and unprofessional intercept’ by intercepting the 66-foot U.S. drone, which ended up getting downed in the Black Sea
The potential Republican presidential candidate made the statement in response to a series of questions by Fox News host Tucker Carlson about U.S. assistance to the war-torn nation.
Wicker backed Donald Trump during his presidency, and voted to acquit Trump during his second impeachment after January 6, as well as the first impeachment, which related to his dealings with Ukraine. Trump in his own statement is calling to ‘work out a deal’ to end the war.
It comes at a time with Republicans in Congress are demanding more scrutiny for the $113 billion in U.S. aid sent to Kyiv last year, and as Speaker Kevin McCarthy has said it should not get a ‘blank check.’
DeSantis’s position on American assistance to Ukraine distinguishes him from several high-profile Republicans, including McConnell, who said it (aid to Ukraine) should be the ‘number one priority’ for the U.S. in December.
Former Vice President Mike Pence recently poked at the Florida governor and said there was no room for ‘Putin apologists’ in the GOP. ‘We support those who fight our enemies on their shores, so we will not have to fight them ourselves.’
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said becoming ‘further entangled in a territorial dispute’ between Russia and Ukraine is not among U.S. ‘vital national interests’
Tucker Carlson asked several presumed White House contenders, including Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis what he thought about U.S. aid to Ukraine
‘While the U.S. has many vital national interests – securing our borders, addressing the crisis of readiness within our military, achieving energy security and independence, and checking the economic, cultural, and military power of the Chinese Communist Party – becoming further entangled in a territorial dispute between Ukraine and Russia is not one of them,’ DeSantis said.
The Florida governor continued: ‘The Biden administration’s virtual ‘blank check’ funding of this conflict for ‘as long as it takes,’ without any defined objectives or accountability, distracts from our country’s most pressing challenges.’
He added that the growing threat from China and the crisis at the southern border should take priority.
His positions were revealed on a day when details emerged of the Pentagon’s $842 million budget request, amid a push to refill supplies after arming Ukraine and reinforcing NATO’s eastern flank.
The stark language drew notice from Carlson, the top-rated cable host, during his broadcast. ‘Until tonight, no one could really say with precision, where [DeSantis] stood on the war in Ukraine, which is arguably the most important topic in the world. And now we know DeSantis is adamantly opposed to the position that most Republicans in Washington have taken on Ukraine. DeSantis is not a neocon. Who knew?’
The statement comes as the Republican presidential field continues to take shape, with former President Donald Trump continuing to be the poll leader – Carlson called him the frontrunner.
It has been over a year since Russia launched its brutal invasion, and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky continues calling for the U.S. and allies to provide more long-range weapons and ammunition, describing Ukraine’s war as protecting all of Europe from Russian aggression.
DeSantis, a former House member who served in the Navy Reserve as a military lawyer in the Judge Advocate General’s Corps, came out explicitly against two of Zelensky’s requests.
‘The U.S. should not provide assistance that could require the deployment of American troops or enable Ukraine to engage in offensive operations beyond its borders. F-16s and long-range missiles should therefore be off the table,’ he told Carlson. ‘These moves would risk explicitly drawing the United States into the conflict and drawing us closer to a hot war between the world’s two largest nuclear powers. That risk is unacceptable.’
Carlson also read the responses from Trump – a week after internal emails were released concerning a Dominion lawsuit against Fox – had him calling Trump a ‘demonic force’ and writing: ‘I hate him passionately.’
DeSantis’ position puts him near Trump on skepticism of Ukraine. The former president has long called the country ‘corrupt,’ and has repeatedly touted his ability to ‘get along’ with Russia.
At an event in Iowa on Monday night, Trump said he only he can prevent World War Three from breaking out.
The Biden administration and Congress has set aside a staggering $113 billion in American taxpayer funds for Ukraine in a conflict that has no end in sight
DeSantis came out against providing F-16s and longer range missiles to Ukraine, even as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy pleads for more and better weaponry
Carlson also read a statement from Trump, who said he would negotiate an end to the war. It comes after the host in internal emails revealed in a Dominion lawsuit said he ‘despised’ Trump
The debate over support comes as Ukraine is fighting to maintain control of Bakhmut, which is nearly encircled by Russian forces. Here Ukrainian service members fire an artillery cannon aiming at Russian positions nearby Bakhmut frontline in Chasiv Yar
In his own statement, Trump says Russia wouldn’t have invaded on his watch and points to the chaotic U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan executed under Biden after his administration set a deadline with the Taliban. He also insisted that European allies should pay the U.S. ‘retroactively’ for the difference between what the U.S. and Europe spend to aid Ukraine.
In a Truth social post, Trump vowed to negotiate for peace. ‘The U.S. would ‘tell Ukraine that there will be little more money coming from us, UNLESS RUSSIA CONTINUES TO PROSECUTE THE WAR. The President must meet with each side, then both sides together, and quickly work out a deal. This can be easily done if conducted by the right President. Both sides are weary and ready to make a deal. The meetings should start immediately, there is no time to spare. The death and destruction MUST END NOW!’
A Pew poll at the end of January revealed declining support for supporting the war by Republicans.
It found 40 percent of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents think the U.S. is providing too much help, up from 32 percent in the fall. The number was just 9 percent last March, immediately after Russia invaded.
Ron DeSantis’s responses to Tucker Carlson’s questions on Ukraine and U.S. aid
While the U.S. has many vital national interests – securing our borders, addressing the crisis of readiness within our military, achieving energy security and independence, and checking the economic, cultural, and military power of the Chinese Communist Party – becoming further entangled in a territorial dispute between Ukraine and Russia is not one of them. The Biden administration’s virtual ‘blank check’ funding of this conflict for ‘as long as it takes,’ without any defined objectives or accountability, distracts from our country’s most pressing challenges.
Without question, peace should be the objective. The U.S. should not provide assistance that could require the deployment of American troops or enable Ukraine to engage in offensive operations beyond its borders. F-16s and long-range missiles should therefore be off the table. These moves would risk explicitly drawing the United States into the conflict and drawing us closer to a hot war between the world’s two largest nuclear powers. That risk is unacceptable.
A policy of ‘regime change’ in Russia (no doubt popular among the DC foreign policy interventionists) would greatly increase the stakes of the conflict, making the use of nuclear weapons more likely. Such a policy would neither stop the death and destruction of the war, nor produce a pro-American, Madisonian constitutionalist in the Kremlin. History indicates that Putin’s successor, in this hypothetical, would likely be even more ruthless. The costs to achieve such a dubious outcome could become astronomical.
The Biden administration’s policies have driven Russia into a de facto alliance with China. Because China has not and will not abide by the embargo, Russia has increased its foreign revenues while China benefits from cheaper fuel. Coupled with his intentional depletion of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve and support for the Left’s Green New Deal, Biden has further empowered Russia’s energy-dominated economy and Putin’s war machine at Americans’ expense.
Our citizens are also entitled to know how the billions of U.S. taxpayer dollars are being utilized in Ukraine.
We cannot prioritize intervention in an escalating foreign war over the defense of our own homeland, especially as tens of thousands of Americans are dying every year from narcotics smuggled across our open border and our weapons arsenals critical for our own security are rapidly being depleted.’