The most pro-Russia White House in the the last decade has just accused Senator Hawley of parroting Russian talking points after he argued that the US should take Ukrainian membership into NATO off the table.
First, here’s what Hawley sent in a letter to the White House:
AXIOS – Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) is calling on the Biden administration to drop longstanding U.S. support for Ukraine’s eventual membership in NATO, arguing that a binding commitment to defend the country would undermine efforts to counter China.
Hawley is essentially arguing that China is the bigger threat and that going to war with Russia over Ukraine would detract from the US military doing everything it could to be ready for China:
Hawley is asking for “clarity” from Secretary of State Antony Blinken on how Ukraine’s future membership in NATO would serve U.S. interests, according to a letter obtained by Axios.
Hawley said he supports sending assistance that Ukraine needs to defend itself, but contends that the U.S. interest “is not so strong” to warrant going to war with Russia.
“Such a deployment can only detract from the U.S. military’s ability to ready and modernize forces to deter China in the Indo-Pacific,” Hawley writes, arguing that “Americans’ security and prosperity rest upon our ability” to curtail Beijing’s dominance.
“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.”
Pointing to the failure of NATO member states to spend 2% of their GDP on defense, Hawley called on Biden to rethink “basic assumptions” about U.S. foreign policy that have been “collapsed” by the rise of China.
Axois points out that this goes against the historic position of the GOP:
Hawley is staking out a position increasingly supported by the Republican base but historically at odds with the mainstream GOP consensus still backed by his Senate colleagues.
Former President George W. Bush and all NATO leaders agreed at the 2008 Bucharest Summit that Ukraine and Georgia “will become” members of the alliance — though no specific roadmap was offered at the time.
Russia, which vigorously opposed the accession of either former Soviet republic, went on to invade Georgia later that year, and Ukraine in 2014.
As Russian President Vladimir Putin threatens to renew his invasion of Ukraine with a massive military buildup on its borders, he is demanding legal guarantees that the country will never be allowed into NATO.
NATO has no plans to admit Ukraine any time soon but has refused to allow Putin to set limitations on its foundational “open-door policy.”
I honestly don’t know whether I agree with Hawley on this one. He makes an interesting point, but taking Ukraine membership off the table would seem to invite a Russian invasion more than deter it. I agree that we should do everything we can to avoid war with Russia, but I’m not sure this is the way to do that.
What I am sure of, however, is that Hawley’s argument is based on America’s self-interest and not that of Russia, despite what Psaki accused of him today:
This is rich coming from a White House that has done about everything wrong one can do to invite Russia to invade Ukraine. Instead of abiding by the law, Biden removed sanctions from the Russian company building the Nord Stream 2 pipeline so they could finish it, which is why Russia has his armies on the borders of Ukraine right now. Biden stood down when Putin threatened war with him last year if he entered the Sea of Azov, while Putin was amassing his armies. And Biden publicly stated the other day that he wouldn’t have as big a problem with a smaller Russian invasion, which he called an incursion.
If anyone is doing Russia’s bidding here, it’s Biden, not Hawley.