Fox News host Tucker Carlson wondered on Wednesday why the U.S. was supporting Ukraine and not Russia, amid a recent build up of Russian troops along the countries’ shared border.
Carlson was interviewing Republican Representative Mike Turner, who has urged President Joe Biden‘s administration to “take swift action” with regard to the Russian forces in a letter with other GOP members of Congress.
He pressed Turner on why he was urging the administration to do more for Ukraine and eventually asked why the U.S. should be supporting the country instead of backing Russia.
Turner, who represents Ohio’s 10th district, began by thanking Carlson for highlighting the issue but the Fox News host proceeded to grill the Republican about his position.
“A lot of military families watch this show,” Carlson said. “You’ve called for sending American troops to Ukraine—to the region, as you put it—I wonder if you could explain to them why it is in America’s interest that their kids risk their lives in Ukraine.”
A visibly frustrated Turner discussed the history of the region and the 1994 Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances, in which Russia had promised to respect the territorial integrity of Ukraine, among other former Soviet territories, and mentioned the Russian invasion of Ukraine and annexation of Crimea.
“We already have troops in Ukraine,” Turner said. “The issue of our letter is to raise the importance so that people understand that we’re about to see debacle number two of the Biden administration.”
Turner mentioned the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan and suggested a similar situation could arise in Ukraine if the Biden administration didn’t act, but Carlson pushed back against the comparison.
“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?” Carlson said.
“So why should the average American care about the territorial integrity of Ukraine, sincerely?” he asked.
Turner explained the strategic importance of Ukraine and the need to defend the country’s territorial integrity, but Carlson suggested the territorial integrity of the U.S. had been compromised by the situation at the southern border and asked Turner if he had called for troops to be sent there.
The congressman said that everyone “that is on our side” had called for troops at the border but Carlson expressed skepticism. Turner tried to return to the topic of Ukraine and discussed the need provide Ukraine with lethal weapons.
“Hold on, 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,” Carlson said.
“Who’s got the energy reserves? Who was 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 aren’t we on Russia’s side? I’m totally confused!” he said.
Turner suggested that Carlson should look at a map of the region and then said: “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.”
He said that Russia had tanks on the border and not ballot boxes and Carlson responded: “I guess I’m for democracy in other countries, I guess.”
“Sure you are,” Turner said.
“But I’m really for America and I think that our interest is in counterbalancing the actual threat, which is China,” Carlson went on.
“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 towards China, and that does not serve our interests in any way, does it? Or maybe it does.”
The two men continued to clash as Carlson expressed skepticism about the need to assist Ukraine and Turner defending his position.