IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Harris slams DeSantis for saying Ukraine support isn't a vital U.S. interest

"If you really understand the issues, you probably would not make statements like that,” the vice president said.
Vice President Kamala Harris speaks at the Aspen Ideas Climate Event in Miami Beach, Fla.
Vice President Kamala Harris speaks at the Aspen Ideas Climate Event in Miami Beach, Fla., on March 8.Mireya Acierto / Getty Images file

Vice President Kamala Harris criticized Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis' recent comments about Ukraine, saying he might not have made such statements if he actually understood the issues.

In an appearance on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert," which aired late Wednesday, Harris was asked about DeSantis’ comments to Fox News host Tucker Carlson calling Russia’s war in Ukraine a “territorial dispute” and saying defending Ukraine isn't a "vital" national interest for the U.S.

Harris rebuked the remarks from DeSantis, a Republican, by first pointing to the meetings she has had with "over 100" world leaders — including presidents, prime ministers, chancellors and kings — as vice president.

“When you’ve had the experience of meeting and understanding the significance, again, of international rules and norms and the importance of the United States of America standing firm and clear about the significance of sovereignty and territorial integrity, the significance of standing firm against any nation that would try to take by force another nation — if you really understand the issues, you probably would not make statements like that," she said.

DeSantis, a potential Republican presidential candidate, made the remarks in a questionnaire response Carlson shared on Twitter.

“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 wrote.

“The Biden administration’s virtual ‘blank check’ funding of this conflict for ‘as long as it takes,’ without any defined objectives or accountability, distracts from our country’s most pressing challenges,” he continued.

DeSantis also contended that “peace should be the objective” for the U.S., adding that he opposes sending “F-16s and long-range missiles” to help Ukraine defend itself against Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war.

The remarks represent a break from many in DeSantis' party, as well as a shift from when he was in Congress, when he supported multiple defense bills to provide for U.S. military and intelligence support for Ukraine.

While he has not yet announced a 2024 presidential bid, DeSantis is already being viewed as a favorite by some Republicans who want to move beyond former President Donald Trump.

Harris has previously criticized DeSantis over his efforts to change how Black history is taught.

“Any push to censor America’s teachers and tell them what they should be teaching in the best interest of our children ... is, I think, wrongheaded,” she said in an interview with NBC News’ Andrea Mitchell last month.

“The people who know our children are their parents and their teachers ... and it should not be some politician saying what should be taught in our classrooms,” Harris added.