Volodymyr Zelenskyy says Ron DeSantis is wrong about U.S. funding for Ukraine
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. Image via AP.

If Russia occupies Ukraine, NATO allies will be next, the Ukrainian President argued.

Ukraine’s President is responding directly to Gov. Ron DeSantis’ assertion that providing funding to the eastern European nation isn’t in America’s national interest.

In an interview with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, editors of The Atlantic asked directly about DeSantis’ position on continued aid. Zelenskyy said if he could discuss the matter with DeSantis or anyone with the same concerns, he would respond pragmatically.

“If we will not have enough weapons, that means we will be weak. If we will be weak, they will occupy us. If they occupy us, they will be on the borders of Moldova and they will occupy Moldova. When they have occupied Moldova, they will (travel through) Belarus and they will occupy Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia,” Zelenskyy argued.

“That’s three Baltic countries which are members of NATO. They will occupy them. Of course (the Balts) are brave people, and they will fight. But they are small. And they don’t have nuclear weapons. So they will be attacked by Russians because that is the policy of Russia, to take back all the countries which have been previously part of the Soviet Union.”

The interview happened after DeSantis told Fox News in a questionnaire that “becoming further entangled in a territorial dispute between Ukraine and Russia” was not a “vital national interest.”

“Without question, peace should be the objective. 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.

“F-16s and long-range missiles should therefore be off the table. These moves would risk explicitly drawing the United States into the conflict and drawing us closer to a hot war between the world’s two largest nuclear powers. That risk is unacceptable.”

That puts DeSantis in line with a view held by former President Donald Trump, but not most of the other Republicans currently running or expected to run for President in 2024, including former Vice President Mike Pence, former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley and U.S. Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina. DeSantis’ comments also mark a departure from the position he held while serving in Congress.

Zelenskyy suggested DeSantis’ framing is short-sighted. He argued that if Russia occupies Ukraine, that will lead to the invasion of countries in NATO, forcing U.S. involvement in the future.

“When they will occupy NATO countries, and also be on the borders of Poland and maybe fight with Poland, the question is: Will you send all your soldiers with weapons, all your pilots, all your ships? Will you send tanks and armored vehicles with your young people? Will you do it?” Zelenskyy told The Atlantic. “Because if you will not do it, you will have no NATO.”

Zelenskyy then referenced a nation DeSantis does see as an ally worth defending.

“When they will try to occupy Israel, will the United States help Israel?” he said. “That is the question. Very pragmatic.”

Jacob Ogles

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at [email protected].


  • Richard Bruce

    March 20, 2023 at 12:48 pm

    Why hasn’t Russia invaded NATO countries to date? Zelenskyy should have been spending Ukrainian money on their own defense than spending on corrupt domestic and foreign (you know who) officials. Israel won’t need USA help against Russia.

    • Yours truly

      March 20, 2023 at 1:20 pm

      US plans to give ~$4bln to Israel this year (2023) to supply their iron dome

      But the commentator say Israel doesn’t need US help?


  • Tom Meahger

    March 20, 2023 at 2:13 pm

    Are you serious? Blaming the invaded, not the invaders? It’s not a “territorial dispute” and DeSantis disqualifies himself as a serious leader with that stupid remark. Russia has over 3x the population of Ukraine plus a century of military buildup. Everything Zelenskyy said about Russia’s plans is correct. (His comments about Israel were a comparison about alliances; Russia won’t directly invade Israel, a nation smaller than New Jersey, but if it did, Israel would not survive on its own.)

  • It's Complicated

    March 20, 2023 at 3:52 pm

    Russian will not invade NATO countries because it does not want a full scale regional war triggered by invading a member of the alliance. No way Russia could afford/win a land war invading Europe, either. Plus, if Russia invades NATO countries, all those European countries that are currently dependent upon natural gas from Russia will start weening themselves, because they will finally have their eyes opened to how ruthless Putin is. Putin may complain about the USA funding a proxy war, but proxy wars have been part of the Russian/former Soviet Union playbook for a century, and proxy wars with the USA have been going on for years.

    I have mixed feelings about the USA funding Ukraine’s defense. As far as spending their own money on defense, Ukraine is spending what they can. Would hate to see Ukraine back under a dictatorship due to an invasion, but also don’t want the USA to get dragged into a war that is not ours.

    The GDP of Ukraine is $130.8 Billion, while the GDP of the USA is $20.5 Trillion. So, the USA GDP is about 152 times the size of Ukraine’s. That is why the world often comes to us for help.

  • Bert

    March 20, 2023 at 4:56 pm

    Hello from Germany,
    I would like to remind you that after the end of the USSR, the USA persuaded Ukraine to give up its nuclear weapons.
    If Ukraine had kept these weapons, there would probably be no war today. However, the USA gave Ukraine security guarantees in return.
    In my opinion, the U.S., as well as Germany, should give Ukraine significantly more weapons. Ukraine needs to liberate its country. More Western weapons, less dead Ukrainians.
    If Russia wins the war, it will also be a fatal signal for the future. Aggressive attacks and disregard for international law, war crimes, devastation of entire provinces, this Russia must not be allowed to win.
    That would be a declaration of bankruptcy for NATO. A total loss.

Comments are closed.


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