Sen. Hawley calls on Biden to suspend support for Ukraine NATO membership

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Sen. Hawley calls on Biden to suspend support for Ukraine NATO membership

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Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., called on the Biden administration to suspend its support for Ukraine to become a member of NATO and focus instead on blocking Chinese ambitions in the Indo-Pacific region. 

Fox News Digital obtained a letter by Hawley addressed to Secretary of State Antony Blinken and copied to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin in which the senator asks for “clarity about the Biden administration’s support for Ukraine’s prospective membership in NATO.” 

The senator urged the U.S. needs to focus its attention on China and its actions in the Indo-Pacific region, where Beijing aims to “propel its rise” through domination of the region’s resources. 

Senator Josh Hawley, a Republican from Missouri, speaks during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Tuesday, March 2, 2021. 

Senator Josh Hawley, a Republican from Missouri, speaks during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Tuesday, March 2, 2021. 
(Graeme Jennings/Washington Examiner/Bloomberg)

“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, calling on the U.S. to stop carrying “the heavy burden it once did in other regions of the world – including Europe.”

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“To the contrary, we must do less in those secondary theaters in order to prioritize denying China’s hegemonic ambitions in the Indo-Pacific,” he added. 

Ukrainian soldiers use a launcher with U.S. Javelin missiles during military exercises in Donetsk region, Ukraine, Wednesday, Jan. 12, 2022. 

Ukrainian soldiers use a launcher with U.S. Javelin missiles during military exercises in Donetsk region, Ukraine, Wednesday, Jan. 12, 2022. 
(Ukrainian Defense Ministry Press Service via AP)

Hawley has consistently called for actions to check Chinese growth and ambition, such as his speech in 2020 to “reform” the global economy and shift economic power away from China. 

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The senator does support any delivery of assistance to Ukraine to defend itself, but argued the U.S. interest “is not so strong” to justify “committing” to a war in the region. 

Photos of the Ukrainian border captured by Maxar Technologies show tanks, missiles and troops in positions close to Ukrainian territory or within Russian-annexed Crimea. More than 125,000 Russian forces overall are believed to be in those areas. 

“Troop tents and shelters for personnel have been seen at virtually every deployment location in Belarus, Crimea and western Russia, which suggests that the units are now accompanied by troops and have increased their overall readiness level,” a spokesperson for the company told Sky News. 

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But Hawley believes that the imminent threat provides a perfect moment for the U.S. to make clear its commitments abroad.

“Already, President Biden has announced that the United States will send more conventional forces to Europe, if Russia invades Ukraine,” Hawley wrote. “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.”

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The letter requests answers from Blinken on the value Ukraine’s admission into NATO would provide the alliance and U.S. interests abroad, providing a deadline of Feb. 28 for the secretary to reply. 

Fox News’ Greg Norman to contributed to this report. 

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