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Ukraine invites Ron DeSantis to visit after Florida governor calls war a "territorial dispute"

Ukraine has invited Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis to visit the country after he called the war there a "territorial dispute" and not one of the United States' "vital national interests."

Thousands have been killed, injured and displaced since Russia invaded Ukraine just over a year ago.

"We are sure that as a former military officer deployed to a combat zone, Governor [Ron DeSantis] knows the difference between a 'dispute' and war," Oleg Nikolenko, a spokesperson for Ukraine's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, tweeted on Tuesday.

"We invite him to visit Ukraine to get a deeper understanding of Russia's full-scale invasion and the threats it poses to U.S. interests," he said.

DeSantis told Fox News earlier this week, "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 is widely expected to run for president in 2024. Other members of his Republican Party voiced disapproval of his comments.

"It's a misunderstanding of the situation," Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said Tuesday. "This is not a territorial conflict, it's a war of aggression. To say it doesn't matter is to say war crimes don't matter."

"I would argue, and I think the majority of people in this country recognize how important it is, that Ukraine repel Russia," Sen. John Thune of South Dakota said.

"Any one of the individuals who has an interest in working as the next president of the United States really needs to get a full briefing before they decide to make up their minds on this particular issue," said Sen. Mike Rounds of South Dakota.

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