Florida governor Ron DeSantis has long sought to avoid taking a position on Russia’s war in Ukraine. On the eve of the Russian invasion, 165 Florida National Guard members were stationed on a training mission in Ukraine. They were evacuated in February 2022 to continue their mission in neighboring countries. When they returned to Florida in August, DeSantis did not greet them. He has not praised, or even acknowledged, their work in any public statement.
DeSantis did find time, however, to admonish Ukrainian officials in October for not showing enough gratitude to new Twitter owner Elon Musk. (Musk returned the favor by endorsing DeSantis for president.) On tour this month to promote his new book, DeSantis has clumsily evaded questions about the Russian invasion. When a reporter for The Times of London pressed the governor, DeSantis scolded him: “Perhaps you should cover some other ground? I think I’ve said enough.”
Even his allies found this medley of past hawkishness and present evasiveness worrying—especially because he was on record, in 2014 and 2015, urging the Obama administration to send both “defensive and offensive” weapons to Ukraine after the Russian annexation of Crimea. So last night, DeSantis delivered a more definitive answer on Tucker Carlson’s Fox News show.
DeSantis’s statement on Ukraine was everything that Russian President Vladimir Putin and his admirers could have wished for from a presumptive candidate for president. [Continue reading…]