DeSantis Begins to Walk Away From Ukraine

The following is part of The Moscow Primary, an irregular series on yours truly’s speculations regarding the views of the 2024 Republican nomination contest from the most important player: the Kremlin.

… and so it begins.

After relying on culture war issues to curry favor with the Kremlin, Governor Ron DeSantis finally addressed the main issue for Moscow: Would he support Ukraine’s efforts to defend itself whatever it takes? His answer: No.

At first, DeSantis threw up the standard false choice (Ukraine’s border versus our own) that pro-Russia Republicans such as Marjorie Taylor Greene, Lauren Boebert, and our own KGBob Good have been using.

“I and many Americans are thinking to ourselves, Ok, he’s very concerned about those borders halfway around the world. He’s not done anything to secure our own borders here.”

DeSantis then went on to mischaracterize Biden’s policy on his way to delivering the coup de grace (Fox News, emphasis added):

“They have effectively a blank-check policy with no clear, strategic objective identified, and these things can escalate, and I don’t think it’s in our interests to be getting into a proxy war with China, getting involved over things like the borderlands or over Crimea,” DeSantis said.

“So I think it would behoove them to identify what is the strategic objective that they’re trying to achieve, but just saying it’s an open-ended blank check, that is not acceptable,” he continued.

First, DeSantis made it clear to Russia that he is perfectly fine letting them keep “things like the borderlands or … Crimea.” It is the first time he has spelled out his willingness to carve up Ukraine and appease Putin. Moreover, by opposing “an open-ended blank check,” the Governor is feeding into Putin’s optimism that he can wait out the transatlantic alliance and exhaust them to the “peace table.”  It is the first time the Florida governor has made openly clear he is ready to take the Kremlin’s side.

Meanwhile, when asked, “What does a win look like for us in Ukraine?” – and thus given the chance to explain precisely “strategic objective” he had in mind, DeSantis dodged the question. Instead, he chose to minimize Russia’s threat to NATO – never mind that actual NATO members in Eastern Europe say something very, very different. As for Biden, contrary to the Governor’s assertion, the president spelled out the objective while in Kyiv (emphasis added).

I am in Kyiv today to meet with President Zelensky and to confirm our unwavering commitment to democracy, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine.

In contrast, Governor DeSantis openly parroted Putinist propaganda and made clear he was prepared to appease the Kremlin and its fans in the Republican Party.

Now, just because DeSantis has formally entered the Moscow Primary doesn’t necessarily mean he’ll win it. Trump has a far longer history of appeasing the Kremlin. The pro-Moscow Republicans will be sure to trust him far more than DeSantis. Moreover, even if DeSantis can convince enough of them to get the nomination, he still needs Trump to avoid a breakaway bid in the general election.

Only one person can make that happen. DeSantis is now openly trying to win his support. We’ll see if he succeeds.

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