DeSantis Invited to Ukraine After Calling War ‘Territorial Dispute’

  • Gov. Ron DeSantis called Russia’s year-long war in Ukraine a ‘territorial dispute,’ on Monday.
  • The Florida governor was skewered by politicians on both sides of the aisle for his assessment.
  • On Tuesday, Ukraine’s foreign ministry invited DeSantis to see the situation on the ground himself.

Ukraine’s foreign ministry invited Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis to visit the war-torn country after DeSantis reduced Russia’s full-scale invasion of its neighbor to a “territorial dispute,” earlier this week.

DeSantis ruffled feathers on Monday after he downplayed the Russian invasion of Ukraine, saying it shouldn’t be a top US foreign policy priority, and calling the war a “territorial dispute.” In response, Ukraine’s foreign ministry invited DeSantis to see combat zones in the country for himself, to gauge whether he stands by that assessment, according to the BBC.

DeSantis’ comments came via a statement sent to Fox News on Monday where he said that Russia’s war in Ukraine was not a “vital interest.”

“While the US has many vital national interests — securing our borders, addressing the crisis of readiness with 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 in a statement sent to “Tucker Carlson Tonight” on Fox News.

The next day, Ukraine foreign ministry spokesman Oleg Nikolenko pushed back against DeSantis’ comments and extended an offer, per the BBC.

“We are sure that as a former military officer deployed to a combat zone, Governor Ron DeSantis knows the difference between a ‘dispute’ and war,” Nikolenko said, according to the BBC. “We invite him to visit Ukraine to get a deeper understanding of Russia’s full-scale invasion and the threats it poses to US interests.”

In his statement, Nikolenko referenced DeSantis’ service as an officer in the US Navy with the Judge Advocate General’s (JAG) Corps, where the Florida governor had been a legal advisor to US Navy Seals.

DeSantis’ office did not immediately return Insider’s request for comment.

DeSantis received bipartisan criticism for his position this week.

The statement, criticizing the Biden administration for giving Ukraine a “blank check,” amounted to a similar stance his once-ally former President Donald Trump has taken on Ukraine.

As a member of Congress in 2015, DeSantis was a vocal advocate for sending Kyiv weapons to combat Russia’s aggression at the time.

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