Declared and prospective Republican 2024 presidential contenders laid out their views on the Ukraine War, including some for the first time, in response to a questionnaire from Fox News host Tucker Carlson.
Carlson posed six questions about Ukraine to declared 2024 candidates former President Donald Trump, entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, and former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, as well as prospective candidates former Vice President Mike Pence, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott and former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.
In general, Trump, Ramaswamy, DeSantis, Noem, and Abbott fell into a camp leaning towards non-intervention in the conflict or limiting support to Ukraine; while Haley, Pence, Scott, and Christie fell into the more hawkish camp — with Pence being the most hardline.
Questionnaires were also sent to but not responded to by former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin, New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu, former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, and former National Security Advisor John Bolton.
The questions were:
- Is opposing Russia in Ukraine a vital American national strategic interest?
- What specifically is our objective in Ukraine, and how will we know when we’ve achieved it?
- What is the limit of funding and materiel you would be willing to send to the government of Ukraine?
- Should the United States support regime change in Russia?
- Given that Russia’s economy and currency are stronger than before the war, do you believe that U.S. sanctions have been effective?
- Do you believe the United States faces the risk of nuclear war with Russia?
Here is a summary of their responses to Carlson:
Is opposing Russia in Ukraine a vital American national strategic interest?
On whether opposing Russia in Ukraine is a vital American national strategic interest, Trump, DeSantis, Noem, and Ramaswamy said it was not a vital interest.
Pence took a hardline response, saying, “If Putin is not stopped and the sovereign nation of Ukraine is not restored quickly, he will continue to move toward our NATO allies, and America would then be called upon to send our own.”
Scott said it was a vital national interest to degrade Russia’s military, and Christie said, “Russia’s aggression against Ukraine is a national security issue that threatens our alliances and our standing in the world.”
Haley also fell in the “yes” camp, saying, “America is far better off with a Ukrainian victory than a Russian victory, including avoiding a wider war.”
Abbott did not specifically address this question.
What specifically is our objective in Ukraine, and how will we know when we’ve achieved it?
Trump said the objective is to “help and secure Europe,” but added, “Europe isn’t helping itself” and that it is “very unfair” for the U.S. to largely foot the bill while taking advantage of the U.S. on trade and other things. DeSantis said “peace” is the objective.
Haley said the objective should be to help prevent a Russian takeover of Ukraine.
Pence said “victory for Ukraine” and having its sovereignty restored is the objective. Christie said it was to enable Ukraine “to defeat Russian forces and restore their sovereignty.”
Ramaswamy said the objective is to “respect any prior legal treaty commitments the U.S. has made,” citing The Budapest Memorandum that established Ukraine’s sovereignty, and to deter Putin from future aggression and nudge Europeans to “take care of themselves.”
Noem, Abbott, and Scott did not specifically lay out an objective.
What is the limit of funding and materiel you would be willing to send to the government of Ukraine?
Trump said the limit of American support for Ukraine would “strongly depend” on him meeting with Putin but said, “Europe must pay.”
Ramaswamy also said he would “limit any further funding or support to Ukraine” and that European allies “need to do more, a lot more — it’s their backyard, it’s their borders.”
Noem took a hardline against support, saying, “We should not waste taxpayer dollars at the risk of nuclear war…We’ve already over-extended ourselves in our largesse to Ukraine,” she added.
Abbott also took a hardline against support, saying, “Throwing money at Ukraine with no accountability or objective is clearly failing. … Before [Biden] sends any more money or assets to Ukraine’s border, he must enforce our immigration laws and secure our southern border.
DeSantis said the U.S. should not provide assistance that could require the deployment of American troops or allow Ukraine to attack Russian territory, but said, “Our citizens are also entitled to know how the billions of U.S. taxpayer dollars are being utilized in Ukraine.”
Pence, Scott, and Haley all said they do not support a “blank check” for Ukraine.
Pence said withholding or reducing support from Ukraine “will have consequence.”
Christie said, “It is on us to assist our democratic allies in defending themselves against authoritarian aggression.”
Should the United States support regime change in Russia?
Most respondents knocked the idea of regime change.
However, Pence responded by suggesting the question should be posed to the Russian people. Christie said support for Ukraine “is not about regime change in Russia; it is about respecting the sovereignty of free nations.”
Scott did not respond to the question.
Given that Russia’s economy and currency are stronger than before the war, do you believe that U.S. sanctions have been effective?
Trump, Ramaswamy, DeSantis, and Noem all said the sanctions have not been effective and even counterproductive.
Haley said the results have been “mixed.”
Pence claimed that sanctions have been effective, while Abbott, Scott, and Christie did not respond to the question.
Do you believe the United States faces the risk of nuclear war with Russia?
Trump, Noem, DeSantis, and Ramaswamy implied there was a risk of nuclear war with Russia.
Haley said the U.S. has faced this risk since 1945, and said maintaining a strong U.S. military is the best deterrent.
Pence dismissed Russian President Vladimir Putin’s threats of nuclear war as a “bullying tactic,” and said the U.S. “will not be bullied.”
Abbott, Scott, and Christie did not specifically address the question.