Rep. Mike Turner's (R-Ohio) recent discussion with Fox News' Tucker Carlson took a turn for the worse when he had to explain to the news anchor why the United States would rather be allied with Ukraine as opposed to Russia.
On Wednesday night, the Republican lawmaker appeared on Carlson's primetime show where he discussed the United States' relationship with Ukraine. His appearance came several days after he and 14 other Republican lawmakers penned a letter to President Joe Biden asking him "'to immediately provide support to the Ukrainians' after satellite images showed a buildup of Russian military forces along Ukraine's northern border," Mediaite reports.
"Tucker, thank you so much for bringing attention to this issue," said Turner after Carlson welcomed him to the show. "This is one the mainstream media is not going to be reporting and is incredibly important for people to understand what Russia is doing and really the threat to the United States and the threat to the United States' allies."
After pointing out that many of his viewers are from military families, Carlson said, "I wonder if you could explain to them why it is in America's interest that their kids risk their lives in Ukraine."
The Ohio lawmaker explained how Ukraine serves as one of the United States' allies. Mediaite also notes Turner "alluded to the Budapest Memorandum signed by the U.S., Russia, and Ukraine (among other states) in 1994. Russia violated that agreement when it annexed Crimea in 2014."
"So the lesson of 20 years in Afghanistan and the tragic and cowardly and counterproductive exit from Afghanistan is that we need more troops in Ukraine?" asked Carlson. "So why should the average American care about the territorial integrity of Ukraine, sincerely?"
The lawmaker defended his stance as he doubled down on how Ukraine is "incredibly important to America."
Here is an excerpt from the full debate:
Carlson: "But why is it incredibly important to Americans? I mean, I know from a Ukrainian perspective it's incredibly important, but why is it important enough to risk American lives to preserve the territorial integrity of Ukraine when by the way our own territorial integrity has been flagrantly violated by a million foreign nationals coming in over the past 10 months? I wonder why the emphasis on Ukraine's borders and not ours."
Turner: "Well, I think everyone has emphasis on our borders, Tucker. But certainly I think you would–"
Carlson: "Have you called for American troops to our borders?"
Turner: "Everyone has called for American troops that is on our side, Tucker. But I think what you're missing is the fact that because the president has failed in Afghanistan, both Russia and China are looking at threatening their neighbors, including Taiwan, including Ukraine, countries that are important to both our allies and to the strategic importance of the areas in which they are."
The lawmaker went on to explain why he believes the U.S. should assist Ukraine with intelligence and acquisition of weapons.
"But hold on," Carlson interjected. "Why would we take Ukraine's side and not Russia's side? It's a sincere question. If you're looking at America's perspective, why? Who's got the energy reserves? Who's the major player in world affairs? Who's the potential counterbalance against China, which is the actual threat? Why would we take Ukraine's side? Why wouldn't we be on Russia's side? I'm totally confused."
"Well, clearly," Turner shot back. "Maybe if you get out a map and you look to see where the Black Sea is and Romania, where we have our missile defense system, with Greece, and Turkey, the entrance to the Black Sea and then from there you look at what the conflicts have already been on Russia's areas there. Ukraine is a democracy. Russia is an authoritarian regime that is seeking to impose its will upon a validly elected democracy in Ukraine and we're on the side of democracy. That's what people were chasing those planes Afghanistan and wouldn't be chasing Russian ones."
Carlson still didn't get it.
"I guess I'm for democracy in other countries," he said. "I guess. But I'm really for American and I just think that our interest is in counterbalancing the actual threat, which is China. And the only other country with any throw weight that might help us do that is Russia. And our continuation of the Cold War has pushed Russia toward China, and that does not serve our interests in any way. Does it?"
Turner continued with a reference to the annexation of Crimea. When Carlson asked, "How did that hurt America exactly?" Turner noted Russia's militarization of it. He also had to explain to Carlson why he should care.
"You care because what Russia is doing as they are rebuilding their area access of denial with Kaliningrad, Crimea, and Syria to fortify what they had when they had the Warsaw Pact countries, many of which now are in NATO and headed toward NATO, so that we can make certain that liberty and democracy is strengthened," said Turner. "You should be against – I'm sure you are, Tucker – any country using tanks to invade another and putting their will on that country and changing that country's borders."
"Yeah, academically, I am," replied the Fox News host. "But you know, there are a lot of priorities on the map here. Last question, so you sent this letter to President Biden asking for the commitment of the American troops to a foreign country—"
"You misread the letter," said Turner. "Because what it said, it actually tells specifically – we did not say send troops into Ukraine. We said, make certain that there's a military presence in the area so we can provide aid to Ukraine in two important areas, intelligence. If we have troops in the area we can watch, we know what happens, we can know what washer is doing. At the second is lethal weapon so Ukraine can defend itself."
"I got it. Send lawyers, guns, and money," Carlson said, adding, "Where are the Republicans demanding that we send 101st [Airborne Division] or whatever it takes to close the border?"
"I supported Donald Trump in closing the border, including defending him in his impeachment trial, which you yourself reported," said Turner. "And that border was being closed under the policies that we had under Donald Trump which I supported when I supported Donald Trump."
"Actually, You wrote a letter to Donald Trump in which you said yeah, protect the border, but make certain that we don't in any way take troops or material from our foreign commitments and bring them to the border," Carlson said. "You said that in your letter. So I just thought that's just a different perspective."
Not deterred by Carlson's persistence, Turner replied, "Donald Trump sent lethal weapons and intelligence. I'm a senior member of the armed services committee and the intelligence committee. What I've asked for in that letter, Donald Trump did."
"Oh, I'm aware," Carlson said, adding, "I thought it was stupid then, I think it's stupid now."
Turner concluded by saying, "Tucker, I don't know who you're arguing with here because I'm on your side all of those issues, except apparently you need a little education on Ukraine. I'd be glad to send you some stuff on it. Donald Trump thought it was important and I supported Donald Trump's policies there."