US senator asks Biden team to change gears on Ukraine
A Republican senator has urged US President Joe Biden’s administration to drop its support for Ukraine’s long-held ambitions to join NATO, arguing that the growing row with Russia is distracting Washington from countering China’s growing dominance.
In a letter obtained by Axios, addressed to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and dated February 1, Josh Hawley set out his reasoning as to why the White House should consider abandoning its efforts to assist Kiev in joining the ranks of the military bloc.
“It is not clear that Ukraine’s accession would serve US interests,” he wrote. “Indeed, deteriorating conditions in the global security environment caution otherwise.”
According to the GOP senator, Washington “has an interest in maintaining Ukraine’s independence, sovereignty, and territorial integrity” and should urgently send Kiev the “assistance it needs to defend itself against Russia’s military buildup and other threats.” However, “our interest is not so strong … as to justify committing the United States to go to war with Russia over Ukraine’s fate.”
Hawley said that “now is exactly the right time for confronting hard truths” about the importance of strategically choosing which commitments to honor abroad, arguing efforts should be allocated to countering China.
“Americans’ security and prosperity rest upon our ability” to diminish the power’s growing influence, he noted, insisting that Washington “must shift resources to the Indo-Pacific to deny China’s bid for regional domination.”
The senator suggested that deploying US troops to Europe in the event of an invasion into Ukraine “can only detract from the US military’s ability to ready and modernize forces to deter China” in the region.
“But those opportunity costs pale in comparison to what would be expected – indeed, required – of the United States, were NATO actually to admit Ukraine as a member,” he wrote.
Western leaders have repeatedly voiced concerns in recent weeks that Russian troops could be planning to launch an invasion of their neighbor. However, the Kremlin has repeatedly denied the allegations and has sought to obtain guarantees ruling out NATO’s expansion closer to its frontiers.
Beijing has backed Moscow in its efforts to gain assurances from Washington and the US-led military bloc, with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi advising Blinken during a phone call in January that “Russia’s legitimate security concerns must be taken seriously and addressed.”
In December, Yuri Ushakov, aide to Russian President Vladimir Putin, revealed that the Chinese leader Xi Jinping supports the “demands for guarantees” and “is naturally well aware of and understands the main issue: the concerns Russia has on its western borders.”