Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley argued the United States has a national security interest in backing Ukraine until Russia withdraws from the country.
During a CNN town hall Sunday evening, Haley sought to contrast herself with two of the GOP front-runners, former President Donald Trump and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, accusing them of being “too trustful” of Russia and its president, Vladimir Putin, while making her case for supporting Ukraine.
“This is bigger than Ukraine. This is a war about freedom, and it’s one we have to win,” Haley said when asked why the war between Russia and Ukraine “should matter to Americans.”
Haley, a former United Nations ambassador and governor of South Carolina, said that ensuring Ukraine beats back the Russian invasion is about deterrence and keeping a stable world order.
“When China said they were going to take Hong Kong, they did it. Russia said they were going to invade Ukraine, we watched that happen. China says Taiwan is next, we better believe them. Russia said Poland and the Baltics are next, if that happens we are looking at a world war,” Haley said. “This is about preventing war, and the way you prevent wars – not that we give cash to Ukraine, not that we put troops on the ground – but that we get with our allies and we make sure we give them the equipment and the ammunition to win.”
Responding to a prompt by CNN anchor Jake Tapper, Haley launched into an attack on Trump and DeSantis over their statements on the war in Ukraine.
“They’re too trustful. You can’t be trustful of a regime that goes in and tries to take away people’s freedoms,” Haley said.
“For them to sit there and say that this is a ‘territorial dispute,’ that’s just not the case,” she said, referencing a March statement DeSantis made to former Fox News host Tucker Carlson. “To say that we should stay neutral, it is in the best interests of America, it is in the best interests of our national security for Ukraine to win. We have to see this through. We have to finish it.”
Trump gave his thoughts on the war in Ukraine during a CNN town hall last month. The former president said that he would “have that war settled in one day” if elected. When asked if he wanted Ukraine to win the war, he responded, “I don’t think in terms of winning and losing. I think in terms of getting it settled so we stop killing all these people.”
DeSantis, in his statement to Carlson, argued the United States should stop providing “blank check” funding to Ukraine without more clearly-defined goals in trying to end the war.
“While the U.S. has many vital national interests … becoming further entangled in a territorial dispute between Ukraine and Russia is not one of them,” DeSantis said. “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.”