This week’s meeting in Moscow between Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin is the latest proof that China is Russia’s best friend and biggest backer. Everyone knows it, yet President Biden and some Republicans are failing to realize a corresponding truth: If Russia wins in Ukraine, China wins too.
Beijing has set its sights on overtaking the U.S. militarily, economically and culturally. Mr. Xi is in Moscow because supporting Mr. Putin advances his dark vision. He wants Russia to conquer Ukraine so it’s easier for China to invade Taiwan. He wants Russia to threaten the rest of Europe because it draws America’s attention from Asia.
Why are many American politicians blind to this? Why don’t they want Ukraine to beat China’s ally? Victory for Kyiv would make the U.S. safer without putting a single American soldier in harm’s way.
Mr. Biden says the U.S. stands with Ukraine, but he has consistently let Russia seize the initiative. He encouraged the invasion by surrendering in Afghanistan and by saying a “minor incursion” into Ukraine would be OK. He has failed to send Kyiv the support it needs, when it needs it. He has even given Ukraine money without accountability when he should have sent weapons and military equipment. Ukrainians clearly have the will to win. But Mr. Biden has given Ukraine only enough to slow the Russian advance, not to repel it.
Mr. Biden’s hemming and hawing is consistent with his history on national security. 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. Nobody knows that better than Mr. Xi. He wants America to shift attention from Ukraine in the short run, because it would give Russia and China an edge in the long run—in Europe, Asia and world-wide. 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. 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. Beyond China, Iran and North Korea would see a Ukrainian loss as an invitation to evil. Israel, South Korea and Japan would be at much greater risk—and so would the American people. Our enemies threaten our friends because, ultimately, they want to defeat and destroy us.
As ambassador to the United Nations, I saw that when America stands strong, our enemies step back. We need to stand strong with our friends in Kyiv, not least because their victory over Russia would have effects extending far beyond Ukraine. Messrs. Xi and Putin know it, which is why they’re meeting in Moscow this week. The U.S. needs a leader who knows it too, and does what needs to be done to protect the American people and the freedom we hold dear.