Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.) said Monday that checking the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP’s) power is a more vital U.S. national interest than helping Ukraine in its conflict with Russia.
His comments were echoed by some of his fellow potential 2024 GOP presidential nominees.
DeSantis has not officially announced his 2024 candidacy, but he made his foreign policy priorities clear in a recent statement criticizing the Biden administration’s approach to the Ukraine–Russia conflict.
In comments obtained by Fox News’ “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” DeSantis argued the current U.S. policy of helping Ukraine is not a vital interest and, in fact, detracts attention from more pressing challenges confronting America.
“While the U.S. has many vital national interests—securing our borders; addressing the crisis of readiness within 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.
The governor’s comments came in response to a questionnaire Carlson sent to all potential GOP presidential candidates.
Furthermore, DeSantis criticized President Joe Biden’s policies, which he argued have pushed Russia and China into an alliance, “intentionally depleted” America’s Strategic Petroleum Reserves, and empowered Russia’s economy and war capabilities.
“The U.S. should not provide assistance that could require the deployment of American troops or enable Ukraine to engage in offensive operations beyond its borders,” DeSantis said, noting that “peace should be the objective.”
Any actions that lead America further into a potential “hot war” with the world’s great powers should be “off the table.”
“That risk is unacceptable,” he said.
Biden’s Policies Drove the Russia–China Alliance
The Republican governor decried the Biden administration’s “blank check” funding of the Ukraine–Russia conflict without any defined objectives or accountability.
DeSantis also argued against a policy of regime change in Russia, which he thinks might be popular “among the DC foreign policy interventionists” but which he contended “would greatly increase the stakes of the conflict, making the use of nuclear weapons more likely.”
“Such a policy would neither stop the death and destruction of the war, nor produce a pro-American, Madisonian constitutionalist in the Kremlin,” DeSantis said. “History indicates that Putin’s successor, in this hypothetical, would likely be even more ruthless. The costs to achieve such a dubious outcome could become astronomical.”
DeSantis suggested that the Biden administration’s policies have driven Russia into a de facto alliance with China’s ruling communist regime, which has increased its foreign revenues while China benefits from cheaper fuel.
“Coupled with his intentional depletion of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve and support for the Left’s Green New Deal, Biden has further empowered Russia’s energy-dominated economy and Putin’s war machine at Americans’ expense,” he said.
He argued that American citizens are entitled to know how billions of U.S. taxpayer dollars are being utilized in Ukraine.
“We cannot prioritize intervention in an escalating foreign war over the defense of our own homeland, especially as tens of thousands of Americans are dying every year from narcotics smuggled across our open border and our weapons arsenals critical for our own security are rapidly being depleted,” DeSantis said.
Other Potential Candidates Cite CCP Threat
A number of declared and undeclared 2024 presidential hopefuls also named China as the primary threat to the United States.
Vivek Ramaswamy, who announced his bid for the GOP nomination in February, emphasized his foreign policy priorities, with a particular focus on China. According to Ramaswamy, the conflict in Ukraine is not a significant concern for the United States but rather a reminder that U.S. energy independence is essential.
“[M]y top two foreign policy priorities are to Declare Independence from Communist China and to annihilate the Mexican drug cartels,” Ramaswamy said. “The main thing should be the main thing: focus on China.”
Ramaswamy contended that China aims to prolong the conflict in Ukraine to weaken Western military capacity before invading Taiwan.
“It’s working: we think we appear stronger by helping Ukraine, but we actually become weaker vis-à-vis China,” he said.
If elected, he would “limit” further funding or support for Ukraine, he said.
South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem declared communist China as the primary “external threat to the United States.”
“Our opposition to Russia has heightened this threat for a number of reasons. One, it’s pushing Russia into an alliance with China—meaning Russia may soon draw from China’s large weapon arsenal,” Noem said.
“Two, we’re weakening our own military by sending weapons to a corrupt country,” she continued. “And three, we’re taking our eyes off the ball and allowing China to put favors in their bank. This should be Europe’s fight, not ours. We should not waste taxpayer dollars at the risk of nuclear war.”
‘China Is a Risk That Continues to Rise’
Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.), who decried a lack of leadership on domestic issues, said that degrading the Russian military should be a vital U.S. interest before pivoting to the rising threat of China.
“The last point I’d make on the Ukraine front is that China has chosen a side. … They are partnering with Putin, which means it’s enmity with us,” Scott said. “China is a risk that continues to rise, an adversarial position they have taken against the American people. We should hear what they’re telling us. Believe them and act accordingly.”
Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie contended that America’s objective in Ukraine is to support the country to restore its sovereignty in the face of Russian aggression. However, he argued that the conflict was a proxy war being waged against the United States by the Chinese regime.
“Due to their assistance to Russia and China’s recent action in the Middle East, it would be naive to call this anything but Chinese aggression,” Christie said.
Former President Donald Trump, who largely focused his comments on Ukraine, argued that Europe “must pay at least equal to what the U.S. is paying to help Ukraine” and retroactively pay America the difference.
Trump indicated that he would continue but reduce aid to Ukraine if Russia “continues to prosecute the war,” while declaring that as president, he could facilitate an end to the conflict in less than 24 hours.
“It can be done, and it must be done—now!” he said.
Trump argued U.S. sanctions on Russia have driven Russia, China, and Iran “into an unthinkable situation.”