WASHINGTON — Sen. Josh Hawley chastised the State Department on Wednesday for prioritizing weapons deliveries to Ukraine over Taiwan — as the top Marine general warned that Washington is not moving fast enough to prepare Taipei for a potential invasion by China.
“You are prioritizing arms to Ukraine over our vital security interests in Asia,” Hawley (R-Mo.) wrote in his letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken. “This is not a tenable position.”
The US has sent Ukraine approximately $19.7 billion in military aid since the beginning of the Biden administration, the vast majority after Russia invaded the country Feb. 24.
According to Hawley, many of the weapons included in Ukraine aid packages — such as Javelin anti-tank weapons and Stinger anti-aircraft missiles — would be “vital to an asymmetric defense of Taiwan.”
“Seizing Taiwan is Beijing’s next step toward dominating the Indo-Pacific region,” Hawley said, adding it would have “dire ramifications” for US national security. “We must not let this happen. Averting the real and growing threat from China requires us to expedite delivery to Taiwan of the weapons it needs to defend itself.”
“Administration officials will no doubt point out that the mechanisms for delivering weapons to Ukraine and Taiwan differ,” the senator acknowledged. “Many weapons headed to Ukraine, for instance, come from existing US stocks. But this explanation does little to allay concerns. Regardless of the weapons’ source, if both Taiwan and Ukraine need them, they should go to Taiwan first.”
A November report by the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission backs Hawley’s assertion, noting that the war in Eastern Europe was “likely having a significant impact on Taiwan’s own defense planning” as it delayed American weapons deliveries to the island.
“The diversion of existing stocks of weapons and munitions to Ukraine and pandemic-related supply chain issues has exacerbated a sizeable backlog in the delivery of weapons already approved for sale to Taiwan, undermining the island’s readiness,” the report said.
Chinese President Xi Jinping has made “reunification” with the self-governing island his No. 1 priority for Beijing. China claims sovereignty over the island, but the US considers its status unsettled as part of Washington’s “One China” policy.
Several top defense officials have warned in recent months that China could be ready to take on Taiwan sooner than predicted.
“When we talk about the 2027 window, in my mind, that has to be a 2022 window or potentially a 2023 window,” Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Gilday said in October. Gilday was referencing a prediction by former Indo-Pacific Command chief Adm. Phil Davidson, who told Congress last year he expected China could invade by 2027.
On Wednesday, Marine Corps Commandant Gen. David Berger told reporters that “everybody around this table should not be comfortable with where we are or the rate at which we’re moving” in preparations for a potential invasion of Taiwan, Fox News reported.
“[T]he United States [does not] have the luxury of waiting for China to invade Taiwan before we send weapons to the island,” Hawley said. “It will be exceedingly difficult to deliver weapons to Taiwan after a contingency begins due to Taiwan’s susceptibility to Chinese blockade.”
“Moreover, the whole purpose of sending weapons now is to deter any conflict. Waiting jeopardizes this goal,” he added.
The State Department declined The Post’s request for comment, citing department policy not to discuss communications with Congress.