Sen. Mike Rounds (RS.D.) said on Sunday Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R)’s controversial remark describing Russia’s war with Ukraine as a “territorial dispute” can be attributed to “primary politics as the governor plans to jump into the 2024 presidential race.
“Look, I don’t think it’s a territorial dispute, whereas he can take territory, and it’s technically accurate to say there’s territory taken. It’s more than that for us,” Rounds said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
“I think primary politics may very well have something to do with it,” the senator said of the Florida governor’s comments.
DeSantis, who has not officially announced he will run for president but is seen as one of former President Trump’s top potential opponents, recently called Russia’s year-long war against its neighbor of “territorial dispute” and criticized the Biden administration for its continued support for Kyiv.
Rounds said on Sunday that China should be the Biden administration’s top priority, but noted that he believes “what is happening in Ukraine cannot be separated from the major issues surrounding U.S. relations with China. “.
The Republican senator said the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2021 “sends a message” to Chinese leader Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin that the U.S. is stepping back from the international arena, “and that it could perhaps to be testing the waters as to whether or not we would actually exercise our capabilities internationally in the future.
“So taking the question out of Afghanistan – and then moving on to the fact that Putin is now testing the waters by entering or trying to take over a sovereign state right next to them that we had, in 1995, agreed that they would have sovereignty over that specific part of the territory, well, Xi Jinping looks at that and says, ‘I’m going to watch that very closely,’” Rounds said.
“Because Xi Jinping would love Taiwan. And he’s already committed that, one way or another, he’ll get it back. He wants to see how we will react and whether or not we can keep our allies together, whether or not NATO stays together or whether or not it strengthens NATO. It is therefore a broader picture than just the territory,” said the senator.
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