Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, a Democrat from New York, took to Twitter on Monday to criticize Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis amid ongoing tensions with Russian President Vladimir Putin and his invasion of Ukraine.
The Democrat said DeSantis and other members of the "Hard Right" were to blame for being "more comfortable excusing Putin rather than condemning him."
"This isn’t hard: Putin is a threat to American national security and democracy," Schumer wrote in a tweet that quoted DeSantis as previously referring to the Russia-Ukraine conflict as a "territorial dispute."
Schumer’s tweet came after Putin announced he would be moving tactical nuclear weapons to Belarus by the summer as the war in Ukraine, which crossed the one-year milestone last month, continues.
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DeSantis previously described ongoing fighting in the eastern Donbas region as a regional conflict and seemingly downplayed its significance to U.S. national security.
The Republican's remark was made in a written response to Fox News host Tucker Carlson, who sent questions to declared and potential GOP presidential candidates.
"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 in his answer.
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The governor has since walked back the comment, following criticism by fellow Republicans and supporters, clarifying during an interview with Piers Morgan on Fox Nation that Russia did not have a right to Ukraine and that he should have been "more clear" in his initial answer.
"What I’m referring to is where the fighting is going on now, which is that eastern border region Donbas, and then Crimea, and you have a situation where Russia has had that. I don’t think legitimately, but they had," DeSantis said during an interview that aired Thursday. "There’s a lot of ethnic Russians there. So, that’s some difficult fighting, and that’s what I was referring to, and so it wasn’t that I thought Russia had a right to that, and so if I should have made that more clear, I could have done it."
Schumer’s tweet failed to point out that DeSantis walked back the comment.
His tweet also did not point out the criticism he received from Republicans, who principally disagreed.
Florida Sen. Marco Rubio suggested DeSantis was inexperienced with international relations, saying he "doesn’t deal with foreign policy every day as governor."
"Foreign policy is all about nuance," he added.
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Sen. Lindsey Graham, a Republican from South Carolina told Fox News that DeSantis "is basically taking the Chinese position when it comes to Russia’s invasion."
Schumer’s tweet also does not mention that Democrats are actually in control of the White House and the U.S. Senate — and can impact foreign policy while DeSantis cannot.
Democrats were also in control of the White House and the U.S. Senate when Putin annexed Crimea in 2014.
When Republicans gained control of the White House, under former President Donald Trump between 2016 and 2020, Putin did not invade Ukrainian territory.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.