Tapper Asks DeSantis About Ukraine. DeSantis Talks China, US Border

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Diana Glebova White House Correspondent
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Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis argued during a Tuesday interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper that the United States should focus its energies on combating China and securing the southern border rather than on the war in Ukraine.

The governor sat down for a one-on-one with CNN’s Jake Tapper in a departure from the governor’s usual policy of avoiding liberal-leaning corporate media outlets.

During the interview, Tapper asked DeSantis if he would stop sending military or financial aid to Ukraine if he became president.

In response, DeSantis called on Europeans to “do more in Europe” to restrain Russian aggression against Ukraine and emphasizing the threats that China and the ongoing border crisis pose to U.S interests.

“Our number one threat to our country is from China, in terms of foreign threat. We also have a threat of not being able to secure our own border. Tens of thousands are dying every year because the cartels are running fentanyl. So you have to be strong at home if you want to be strong abroad,” DeSantis began, adding that the Asia-Pacific region should be the priority, not Europe.

“I think we’re going towards maybe having a conflict with China. I think the way to deter that conflict with China is to be strong. So I would have the Europeans do more in Europe. That is more in their backyard. That is more of an interest for them,” he continued. “I would be willing to be helpful to try to bring it to a conclusion there. But I’m not going to diminish our stocks [of weaponry] and not send to Taiwan, and I’m not going to make us less capable to respond to exigencies. And you have to care as much about your own border as you do about foreign borders.”

Tapper then asked if DeSantis would push Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to make concessions to Russia.

DeSantis did not answer directly but said the goal should be “a sustainable and enduring peace in Europe but one that does not reward aggression.”

“There is different levers that you’ll be able to pull. We will pull some levers against Russia. We’re going to be much more aggressive on energy and export because I think that has been Putin’s lifeline,” DeSantis said. “I want the Europeans dependent on the United States for that, not him. We’re also going to turn the screws on the Iranians. They have been one of Putin’s biggest benefactors and they benefited from Biden’s approach there. So we’ll use the leverage that we have, but the goal is a sustainable peace that does not reward aggression,” he added. (RELATED: ‘Im Not Going To Tell You That’: Trump Refuses To Lay Out Russia-Ukraine Peace Plan Until He’s President)

Former President Donald Trump has also said he would push for negotiations between Ukraine and Russia and has claimed he could end the war in 24 hours. He has not revealed what specific actions he would take to end the war that quickly.