Former Vice President Mike Pence on Friday told Republican donors that the party has “no room” for Russian President Vladimir Putin “apologists.”

“There is no room in this party for apologists for Putin. There is only room for champions of freedom,” Pence said, according to excerpts of the speech obtained by CBS News and NBC News.

Pence also argued about the merits of NATO standing in stark contrast to Trump, who has previously suggested withdrawing from the alliance.

“To those who argue that NATO expansion is somehow responsible for the Russian invasion of Ukraine, ask yourself, where would our friends in Eastern Europe be today if they were not in NATO?” Pence said.

The following is an interview with Larry Kudlow on March 4, 2022.

Pence also appeared to hit out at Trump for his repeated false claims that he lost the 2020 presidential election because of voter fraud. The former vice president said that “elections are about the future” and that the party “cannot win by fighting yesterday’s battles, or by relitigating the past.”

“My fellow Republicans, we can only win if we are united around an optimistic vision for the future based on our highest values,” Pence said.

The speech from Pence, made during an event in New Orleans, came just a week after former President Donald Trump praised Putin as a “smart” man while downplaying the Russian invasion of Ukraine in his fiery 85-minute speech during the Conservative Political Action Conference in Orlando.

“Biden has obsessed for months over how to stop the invasion of a foreign country thousands of miles away,” Trump said. “You can’t defend western civilization if you would not be able to defend our own civilization.”

The former president said that Democrats believe “Ukraine sovereignty must be defended at all costs” but that the U.S. has “a border that’s a catastrophe.”

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