Sean Hannity Pushes Back as Tulsi Gabbard Defends Russia

Fox News host Sean Hannity pushed back on Monday after former Representative Tulsi Gabbard appeared to defend Russia, citing the country's "security" concerns about the U.S. and NATO.

Gabbard, a Democrat who represented Hawaii's 2nd congressional district from 2013 to 2021, told Hannity that Russia doesn't want U.S. and NATO military forces on its borders.

Russian President Vladimir Putin signed decrees on Monday recognizing two breakaway regions in eastern Ukraine as independent and ordering Russian troops into those regions.

Gabbard and Hannity began their discussion by talking about Vice President Kamala Harris and Gabbard criticized her for recent remarks at the Munich Security Conference in Germany.

Later in the interview, Gabbard brought up the issue of Russia's security. The Russian government has repeatedly cited security issues in expressing its opposition to NATO membership for Ukraine.

"Putin has made clear all along that their security, in his mind, is what's at stake here," Gabbard said. "And they do not want to see U.S. and NATO troops..."

Hannity said he didn't want to interrupt Gabbard, but jumped in and seemed to push back, saying: "Putin also said Ukraine is not a country and he has been saying this many many years, so these territorial ambitions have existed a long time."

"I want to stay focused on the security component," Gabbard said, but addressed the issue raised by Hannity, saying Putin's claims about Ukraine "go way back."

Putin reportedly told then President George W. Bush at a meeting in 2008 that Ukraine was not a country. On Tuesday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov questioned if Ukraine had the right to sovereignty.

Gabbard said on Monday: "But with regards to U.S. and NATO, just as we would not want Russia to come in and start putting their tanks and missiles on our borders - either with Mexico or elsewhere - Russia says, 'Hey, I don't want U.S. and NATO coming and making their military on our borders within Ukraine.'"

"Guess what - the United States doesn't want that either," she said. "NATO countries don't want that either. So why not recognize - say, hey, this is something that actually is common ground."

"It is highly unlikely Ukraine will ever become a member of NATO," Gabbard said. "Let's take it off the table and immediately that would de-escalate these tensions and take that reasoning away from Putin for him to build up this presence on Ukraine's border."

Hannity told Gabbard he might be "a little more suspicious than you in believing that, I think, this very personal for Putin."

Gabbard, a 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, told Fox News' Tucker Carlson on Friday that she believed the Biden administration wanted Russia to invade Ukraine so the U.S. could impose "draconian" sanctions.

Newsweek has asked Tulsi Gabbard for comment.

Tulsi Gabbard Attends a Press Conference
Democratic presidential candidate Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) looks on during a press conference at the 9/11 Tribute Museum in Lower Manhattan on October 29, 2019, in New York City. Gabbard has cited Russian "security" concerns about Ukraine's potential NATO membership. Drew Angerer/Getty Images