China is watching US drama over arming Ukraine: Nato chief

US military funding for Ukraine carries a key deterrent message for China, Nato chief Jens Stoltenberg argued on Sunday at the start of a Washington visit aimed at lobbying Congress to continue funding the war against Russia.

After billions in US aid have been sent to Ukraine since the invasion nearly two years ago, many Republican lawmakers have grown reluctant to keep supporting Kyiv, saying it lacks a clear end game as the fighting against Russian President Vladimir Putin’s forces grinds on.

US President Joe Biden has asked Congress to approve US$61 billion in new aid to Ukraine. But the talks have bogged down as Republican lawmakers – furious over record illegal flows over the US border with Mexico – demand major changes in US immigration and border control policy in exchange for approving more money for Ukraine.

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Stoltenberg plans to make the case in Washington this week for continued aid to Ukraine.

“What matters is that Ukraine gets continued support, because we need to realise that this is closely watched in Beijing,” Stoltenberg said on Fox News.

Analysts say Beijing, which sees Taiwan as part of China to be reunited by force if necessary, is watching to see if once-strong Western support for Ukraine is now petering out.

If Ukraine were abandoned by the US and its allies, mainland China might be tempted to take military action to seize control of Taiwan, these analysts warn.

“So it’s not only making Europe more vulnerable, but all of us, also the United States, more vulnerable, if Putin gets what he wants in Ukraine,” Stoltenberg added.

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He said the agreement being negotiated in the US Congress is “a good deal”. US aid to Ukraine, Stoltenberg said, has been just a fraction of the Pentagon budget, and yet “we have been able to destroy and degrade the Russian army substantially”.

“And therefore we should continue to do so,” he said.

US aid to Ukraine also helps American workers, because the money is used to buy weapons made in the United States, the Nato secretary general said.

Stoltenberg is expected to meet US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin and US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan on Monday.

On Tuesday he is expected to meet Republican and Democratic lawmakers involved in the Ukraine aid debate.

Former US president Donald Trump, the almost certain Republican candidate in the November presidential election, and who has often spoken fondly of Putin, is urging Republican lawmakers to reject the immigration accord being negotiated in Congress – which would also torpedo aid for Ukraine.



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