In an effort to clarify his earlier remarks that the Russian invasion of Ukraine was a “territorial dispute,” Florida Governor Ron DeSantis told British journalist Piers Morgan that Russian President Vladimir Putin is a “war criminal.”
Republican senators Marco Rubio of Florida, Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, and John Cornyn of Texas, who all openly broke with DeSantis after the governor refused more funds for Ukraine, were among those who publicly criticized the governor for his prior remarks on Ukraine. Former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, who is mulling a 2024 candidacy, labeled DeSantis “naïve” for his Ukraine stance.
But in an interview with Morgan that will run this week, DeSantis repeated a characterization of Putin that he had made in early March: “a gas station with a bunch of nuclear weapons.” Both sentences quoted then-Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who once quipped, “Russia is a gas station posing as a country,” in 2014.
According to Fox News, DeSantis said, “I think [Putin] is antagonistic to the United States, but I think the issue that we’ve seen is he doesn’t have the conventional capabilities to accomplish his aspirations. The use of domestic energy resources in the United States is something that may be improved. He is essentially a gas station with a lot of nuclear weapons.
DeSantis has come under increasing fire from Donald Trump and other Republicans for his remarks on Ukraine and his perceived disloyalty to the former president, who announced in November that he is running for president. DeSantis is widely expected to enter the 2024 presidential race after Florida’s legislative sessions in May.
After the governor declared he wouldn’t intervene in Trump’s expected indictment in connection with hush money payments made to porn star Stormy Daniels, Trump fans also turned their attention to DeSantis. DeSantis might interfere with any extradition attempt if it is contested under Florida law.
DeSantis remarked earlier this week at a news conference that he had “serious challenges” to deal with in the state of Florida. “We’re not taking any part in it at all.”
But, DeSantis has changed his position somewhat as a result of his statements to Morgan. Up until this week, he had only marginally responded to Trump’s constant criticism on Truth Social and elsewhere.
DeSantis responded to Trump’s characterization of the Florida governor as “Ron DeSanctimonious” by saying, “You can call me whatever you want, just as long as you also call me a winner.”
Ron DeSantis: Vladimir Putin Is A War Criminal | Wayne Dupree
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