Aid to Ukraine may deter China - US experts
Igor Krestin and David J. Kramer of the George W. Bush Institute believe that the best way the United States can deter China from military aggression in Asia is to help Ukraine defeat Russia
Igor Khrestin, the Bradford M. Freeman managing director of global policy at the George W. Bush Institute, and David J. Kramer, its executive director, shared their thoughts in the article for The Bulwark.
They believe that the most effective way for the US to prevent China from waging war in Asia is to support Ukraine in its fight against Russia.
A united response from the West and Ukraine's resolute resistance to the recent Russian aggression forced Beijing to suspend potential force use against Taiwan. U.S. aid to Ukraine is not a distraction from the greater threat posed by the People's Republic of China, as some have claimed. The Ukraine fight is the China fight.
“Countering China on a European battlefield may seem counterintuitive, but by helping Ukraine successfully repel an assault from a rapacious Russia and by imposing strict sanctions on Moscow for what it has done to Ukraine, we are deterring an authoritarian and revanchist China from taking similar actions toward Taiwan and other vulnerable Asian nations. Halting assistance to Ukraine would risk significantly weakening our chances of containing authoritarian ambitions, whether they come from Moscow or Beijing,” the article reads.
Proponents of the "China First" narrative state that due to its limited resources, the US should concentrate on the China threat and delegate responsibility for the struggle in Ukraine to Europe. It's a matter of "tradeoffs," Elbridge Colby, a former deputy assistant secretary of defense in the Trump administration, and Kevin Roberts, the head of the Heritage Foundation, recently said.
In fact, such thinking gives rise to a number of myths that do not stand up to any criticism - or even common sense.
Myth 1: Military assistance to Ukraine harms the US position in the Indo-Pacific region
Armored vehicles, howitzer rounds, and artillery pieces are what US have so far supplied Ukraine for a ground battle, but they aren't the supplies needed for a potential naval and air fight with China. According to researchers from the Hudson Institute, Peter Rough and Mike Watson, none of the weapons delivered to Ukraine originated through the pipeline of weaponry destined for Taiwan.
There has been a long-standing underinvestment in Indo-Pacific capabilities, which has to be promptly rectified. However, the Pentagon's funding for the Pacific Deterrence Initiative this year is up 40% over last year, as Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin just testified. Although this is a positive step, it shouldn't come at the price of aiding Ukraine.
Myth 2: Europe isn't doing enough to support Ukraine
Krestin and Kramer recognize that the armies of Germany and other European countries have indeed degraded since the Cold War (with some exceptions in the Baltic and Nordic regions) and that efforts must be made to bring them up to speed. But Russia's invasion has led to dramatic changes on the continent. Germany has abandoned its long-standing reliance on Russian energy, eliminating a significant point of contention with Washington. Berlin is the biggest continental donor of military, financial, and humanitarian aid to Kyiv. It has also committed more than $100 billion to modernizing its own armed forces, but it is unclear whether this will be followed by further commitments.
Meanwhile, Poland and the Baltic states are making every effort and spending huge amounts of money to help Ukraine. The United Kingdom has also made its contribution. For the United States to reject these partners now would be a disaster not only for Ukraine, but for the entire system of alliances that the United States helped to establish and that still serves our national security interests. By undermining NATO, Vladimir Putin would gain a significant win and Beijing would receive the incorrect message.
Myth 3. US actions against Ukraine will not help deter China
The United States needs to prepare for Beijing's repeated threats to "reunify" Taiwan with the mainland by whatever means necessary. Xi Jinping is adamant about this, requesting that the Chinese military forces be prepared to do so by 2027.
The authors of the article believe that the coordinated steps taken by the United States and its allies to counter Russia in Ukraine have forced Beijing to reassess the capabilities of its army in case of a Taiwanese scenario. According to Charles Edel and the Center for Strategic and International Studies, "the United States should build upon the template it is now creating during the ongoing Ukraine crisis, sharpen it, and apply it to the Indo-Pacific region."
Due to the American withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2021, Putin probably believed that the United States was disengaging from the globe and that he could invade his neighbor without suffering a serious consequence. Similar signals would be sent to Chinese officials if Ukraine and its European friends were abandoned, increasing the possibility of a Taiwan contingency.
A crucial turning point is rapidly coming in Russia's terrible conflict with Ukraine. Ukraine is getting ready for a significant counteroffensive with the goal of liberating the entirety of its territory as the Russian offensive in the Donbas grinds to a halt. The future of a united, free, and peaceful Europe depends on our support for Ukraine, as do our chances of preventing Chinese aggression against Taiwan.