MCCONNELL: Helping defend Ukraine ‘Obviously in America’s self-interest’

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U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) delivered the following remarks on Monday on the Senate floor regarding Ukraine:

“As I discussed last week, skeptics of American leadership like to hang their hats on the notion that support for Ukraine somehow saps our ability to compete with and deter communist China.

“This view does not hold up to serious scrutiny.

“For one thing, the patina of hawkishness on China is too often just a mask for isolationism.

“If critics of U.S. support for Ukraine disparage the principle that we should oppose adversaries who invade and destroy western-aligned neighbors, how credible is their commitment to defend Taiwan or other vulnerable allies?

“Of course, this isn’t a debate about abstract principles or philanthropy. The United States isn’t arming Ukraine out of a sense of charity. We are backing a fellow democracy because it is in our direct interest to do so.

“To rebut one ad hominem accusation in particular, there is nothing ‘neo-conservative’ about support for Ukraine. Helping a democratic partner defend its sovereign territory against an unprovoked attack from a common enemy is obviously in America’s interest.

“And let me stress: we aren’t defending Ukraine from aggression; the Ukrainians are doing that.

“America’s two most powerful adversaries have struck up a ‘friendship without limits’. If we fail to help Ukraine stop Russia in its tracks, there is every reason to believe Russia and China will both be emboldened.

“Our closest allies and partners in Asia – people with even more to lose from PRC aggression than armchair isolationists here in Washington – understand this fundamental reality.

“It’s why Taiwan provides humanitarian assistance in Ukraine. It’s why the leaders of Japan and South Korea have traveled to Kyiv and pledged billions of dollars in assistance.

“Our partners in Europe and Asia are joining us in investing in our military readiness and expanding our defense production capacity. If not for the conflict in Ukraine, it is difficult to imagine any of this happening.

“Republicans should welcome Democrats who are finally willing to spend money on our defense industrial base. Such a bipartisan consensus will not survive if we turn our backs on this conflict.

“And why would we pull the plug on the Trans-Atlantic Alliance just when European allies are making credible investments in their own defenses and also coming around to share our concerns about Chinese aggression?

“Competition with China is a global proposition. And the strength of our closest military and economic allies in Europe affects China’s calculus. Beijing would love to see the trans-Atlantic alliance fracture in the wake of America turning our back on our closest trading partner.

“If the United States proves we cannot be trusted to back our allies in Europe, why on Earth should our allies in Asia expect different treatment in the face of Chinese aggression?

“So Mr. President, war in Ukraine has taught the West a crucial lesson about the importance of investments in defense industrial capacity. And as I discussed last week, it’s directed billions and billions of dollars toward restocking America’s arsenal with American weapons built here by American workers.

“This is a fundamental prerequisite for competition with China. And we’re accomplishing it using a tiny fraction of the historically small and insufficient defense budgets President Biden has sent to Congress.

“Put another way, America is making urgent strides in the race to compete with our biggest adversary, China. And in the process, we’re helping degrade Russian military strength and encouraging our allies to Buy American and invest in their own defense.

“This is American leadership. And Republicans should be pressing President Biden to show more of it instead of dreaming about American retreat.”


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