Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., questioned Florida GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis' position on Ukraine as not being one of "vital national interests," suggesting the potential 2024 GOP primary candidate lacks foreign policy chops.
DeSantis called Vladimir Putin's war in Ukraine "a territorial dispute between Ukraine and Russia" and Rubio rejected the neo-isolationist position, saying the governor is uninformed or out of line.
"I don't know what he's trying to do or what the goal is," Rubio told "The Hugh Hewitt Show" on Tuesday morning. "Obviously, he doesn't deal with foreign policy every day as governor, so I'm not sure, I can't speak to, I mean, I can't compare that to something else he did or has said over the last few years, because he doesn't deal with it every day.
"But I will say to you that in terms of my view of the overall issue is I think there's nuance, because foreign policy is about nuance."
Rubio said the U.S. not only "has an interest" in Ukraine's sovereignty, but it is "the number one interest in the world," because of a growing alliance between China and Russia.
"I think our geopolitical competition with China is by far the single biggest foreign policy priority that we need to have, and it's a comprehensive one," Rubio told Hewitt. "But there are elements of that that are linked to what's happening with Ukraine and Russia. So my view of it is this, and that is that there is a national security interest when it comes to that, but it is not an unlimited national security interest. And our contribution to them should be commensurate to that, you know, at the same level as our interests are."
Rubio also took exception to DeSantis calling Putin's war in Ukraine a mere "territorial dispute."
"Well, it's not a territorial dispute in the sense that any more than it would be a territorial dispute if the United States decided that it wanted to invade Canada or take over the Bahamas," Rubio continued. "Just because someone claims something doesn't mean it belongs to them. This is an invasion.
"I mean, the Russians basically decided that we want a government in Ukraine that we have control over, and their goal was we're going to go in, we're going to topple their government, or they're going to abandon the country, and then we'll install a puppet through some fake election, and then they'll be in our orbit of influence."
Russia is effectively using Ukraine to keep it from aligning with the U.S. and the West.
"This is basically the Russians want Ukraine to be under their thumb," Rubio said. "And since Ukraine was headed westward in their thinking, they would go back to all of the things that happened in 2014, that's really what triggered all this, is Ukraine said we wanted to join the European Union, and that's really what fired up the Russians to go in and do what they did in the first place back then.
"So it's really more of a desire to dominate their neighbor, have them as part of their sphere of influence, not so much of it is about the land."
DeSantis' position is not unlike former President Donald Trump's America first position, which stresses America should secure its own borders before defending Ukraine's.
Unlike Trump or potentially DeSantis, Rubio said he has no designs on running for president, preferring to keep working in the Senate.
"I don't have any plans to run for anything this year, because you know, timing is everything in life," Rubio said. "And we've got a lot of stuff going on. I've really been focused on hoping we'd be in the majority these next two years. And that's what I was focused on.
"But now, we're in the minority. But we have a majority in the House, so I have a bunch of things we're working on, and that's really what I've been focused on.
"The presidency is not the kind of thing you can just decide overnight to do. You've got to prepare yourself for that and have all the infrastructure in place. So I have no plans or intentions to do anything, run for anything over the next couple years."
Eric Mack has been a writer and editor at Newsmax since 2016. He is a 1998 Syracuse University journalism graduate and a New York Press Association award-winning writer.
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