Trump, DeSantis criticised by fellow presidential contender over Ukraine
Former South Carolina governor Nikki Haley. Photo via EPA

Nikki Haley, the former South Carolina governor and 2024 Republican presidential contender, has criticised former US president chief Donald Trump and Florida governor Ron DeSantis over their stance on Russia's war against Ukraine.

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In a CNN town hall in Iowa, Ms Haley stressed the war in Ukraine "is bigger than Ukraine," "this is a war about freedom and it’s one we have to win."

"For them to sit there and say this is just a territorial dispute, that’s just not the case," she added, in a barb aimed at Messrs Trump and DeSantis who earlier played down the significance of US support for Ukraine.

However, Ms Haley’s sharpest criticism on foreign policy was directed at US president Joe Biden, who she said set the stage for Russian aggression by mishandling the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan.

The next US presidential election is scheduled for 5 November 2024. Messrs Biden and Trump have already announced their intention to run, with Mr DeSantis, the Florida governor, considered Mr Trump’s main rival in the Republican party.

The former US president has repeatedly opposed sending aid to Ukraine, praised Russia’s Vladimir Putin, and threatened the world with nuclear war.

While Mr DeSantis, who does not oppose increased military aid to Ukraine, at first called the war a ‘territorial dispute’, he backtracked after a flurry of criticism from fellow Republicans, saying Mr Putin is a war criminal and Ukraine would win.

More recently, however, the Florida governor said he hoped the Russo-Ukrainian war would be settled by 2025, when the next US president will be sworn in.