Hawley calling on Biden admin to drop support for Ukraine’s eventual membership in NATO

Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) is urging the Biden administration to drop any U.S. support for Ukrainian membership in NATO, arguing that such a move would not support U.S. interests and distracts the country from focusing on China’s growing influence in the Indo-Pacific.

Hawley sent a letter, first reported by Axios, to Secretary of State Antony Blinken and copied to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin asking for “clarity about the Biden administration’s support for Ukraine’s prospective membership in NATO.”

The Missouri senator said “it is not clear that Ukraine’s accession would serve U.S. interests.” He noted that the global context has changed since statements made during a 2008 Bucharest summit in which the U.S. and others voiced their support for prospective NATO memberships for Ukraine and Georgia.

“Today, an increasingly powerful China seeks hegemony in the Indo-Pacific. If China succeeds, it could harness that region’s resources to further propel its rise, while restricting U.S. access to many of the world’s most important markets. Americans’ security and prosperity rest upon our ability to keep that from happening, and so the United States must shift resources to the Indo-Pacific to deny China’s bid for regional domination,” Hawley wrote. 

“This means the United States can no longer carry the heavy burden it once did in other regions of the world — including Europe. To the contrary, we must do less in those secondary theaters in order to prioritize denying China’s hegemonic ambitions in the Indo-Pacific.”

Hawley did note that the U.S. should “urgently deliver” any military assistance that Ukraine may need to combat Russia, but he noted that he did not believe it was justifiable to go to war over rising tensions between the two nations.

Russia has amassed more than 100,000 troops along the border with Ukraine, and the U.S. has warned of a possible invasion. Russia has continued to demand that Ukraine not be allowed into NATO.

Hawley sent Blinken a series of questions that he asked for responses to by Feb. 28, including over how the security of the North Atlantic area could benefit from a prospective Ukrainian membership in NATO.

A State Department spokesperson told The Hill that they do not comment on congressional correspondence as a general matter.

Hawley’s letter comes as U.S. officials said on Wednesday that more than 3,000 troops would be deployed to Poland, Germany and Romania.

President Biden said last week that a small number of troops would be deployed to eastern Europe “in the near term.”

The Hill has reached out to the Pentagon for comment.

— Updated at 1:01 p.m.

Tags Antony Blinken Joe Biden Josh Hawley Josh Hawley Lloyd Austin NATO Russia Ukraine

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