Haley: Backward to think US should ignore Ukraine and focus on China

Former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley
Greg Nash
Former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley speaks during the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center in National Harbor, Md., on Friday, March 3, 2023.

Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley said Monday that the U.S. can’t ignore Ukraine to focus on China as Kyiv fends off Russian aggression, since a Moscow win in the war will benefit Beijing.

Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations under the Trump administration, said in a new Wall Street Journal op-ed that the Biden administration “has given Ukraine only enough to slow the Russian advance, not to repel it” — but noted that “more surprising is the weakness from some on the right.”

“They say the U.S. shouldn’t care about Ukraine because this war isn’t our fight. Some call it a mere ‘territorial dispute.’ They say we should ignore Ukraine so we can focus on China. This has it backward. China loses if Ukraine wins,” Haley said.

Haley’s comments come after Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who has not announced a 2024 bid but is widely considered a top GOP presidential contender, called Russia’s yearlong war on Ukraine a “territorial dispute” and said the war should not be one of America’s “vital national interests,” remarks that have drawn blowback. 

“If Russia wins in Ukraine, China wins too,” Haley said in her op-ed.

Haley argued that Chinese President Xi Jinping “wants America to shift attention from Ukraine in the short run, because it would give Russia and China an edge in the long run.”

“Yet the U.S. can stifle China’s ambitions now by helping Ukraine, and we can do it without sending a blank check or risking American troops. There are many things we must do to counter China on technology, trade and intelligence,” Haley said. “But it’s naive to think we can counter China by ignoring Russia. It’s a dangerous world, and backing away from support for Ukraine would embolden those looking to harm U.S. interests.”

In a Monday appearance on Fox News Channel’s “Special Report,” Haley underscored that “this is not a territorial dispute.”

The former South Carolina governor predicted that if Ukraine loses to Russia, “you can bet” China will go into Taiwan, the self-governing island Beijing claims as its own, and that Russia will go into Poland and the Baltic states — nations that were once part of the Soviet Union. 

“And we’re going to have a world war,” Haley said.

“This is not the time to get weak in the knees on Russia. I mean, if you get weak in the knees on Russia, you are totally handling — handing China what they want on a silver platter. This is the time for American strength. This is the time to prevent wars, not start wars,” Haley said.

This story was updated at 8:53 a.m.

Tags China Nikki Haley Nikki Haley Ron DeSantis russia ukraine

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