After about 30 minutes of debate featuring repeated promotions of campaign websites and dozens of permutations of the word “lie,” Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida and Nikki Haley diverged on actual policy: the war in Ukraine.

Foreign policy is a topic Ms. Haley has seized on in previous debates, showcasing a fluency with international issues from her time as ambassador to the United Nations and often trampling over the provocations of isolationist candidates like Vivek Ramaswamy.

She took a similar tack Wednesday night in drawing a stark contrast with Mr. DeSantis over military aid to Ukraine. Ms. Haley qualified that she did not support putting American troops on the ground but said it was important to help Ukraine in order to prevent a wider global conflict, assist “a pro-American, freedom-loving country” and prevent the further march of Russia.

“This is about preventing war — it’s always been about preventing war,” Ms. Haley said. “If we support Ukraine, that’s only 3.5 percent of our defense budget.”

Mr. DeSantis, who has been much more critical of American support for Ukraine, depicted Ms. Haley’s position as in line with President Biden’s, decrying what he described as an unending commitment to what could be a lengthy conflict.

“They will not tell you when they’ve achieved their goal, and this is going to go on maybe hundreds of billions more into the future,” Mr. DeSantis said, claiming that Ms. Haley cared “more about Ukraine’s border than she does about our own southern border.”

Ms. Haley denounced that as a false choice, jumping in without prompting from the moderators after Mr. DeSantis finished.

“This is the lie they’re telling the American people over and over again,” she said. “They’re saying you have to choose between Ukraine or Israel, Israel and securing the border.

“It is so wrong to say this,” she said.

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