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February 01, 2024

King Asks Nominee Whether Curbing Ukraine Aid Would Encourage China, Global Foes

WASHINGTON, D.C. —U.S. Senator Angus King today questioned U.S. Navy Admiral Samuel Paparo, Jr., the nominee to be the Commander of the United States Indo-Pacific Command, in a hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC). On the heels of his Wednesday night floor speech urging Congress to continue supporting aid to Ukraine in its war against Russia’s invasion, King asked Admiral Paparo about the possible ramifications on U.S. deterrence efforts against China if funds were to be halted. 

“Admiral, your testimony today has been extremely important, informative and important. And one of the aspects that was so important were your initial answers to the questions from the chair and the vice chair in terms of the undermining of our deterrence, in terms of the People's Republic of China, by unilaterally abandoning Ukraine,” began Senator King.

“Just to confirm, you view our leaving Ukraine to be a significant diminution of the deterrent that we're presenting to China. Is that correct,” asked Senator King.

“Yes, sir,” responded Admiral Paparo.

“I think that is very important. Now, one other aspect of that is the effect of this, of leaving Ukraine unilaterally, on our allies. How would Japan and South Korea react to that action,” asked Senator King.

“All of our allies and partners are under pressure. They're under coercion from actors such as the People's Republic of China. And, frequently, it's not just coercion in the military sphere, but across all levers of statecraft. And their staying with the alliance, their enjoining their national power to the United States, is directly related to their confidence in U. S. partnership when it is so committed,” said Admiral Paparo.

“And, accordingly, our U.S. security partnerships worldwide have a direct impact on the cohesion of our alliances and partnerships, and any effect on that imposes costs on the quality of deterrence. As our allies and partnerships have our greatest leverage in deterrence,” continued Admiral Paparo.

“Deterrence has probably been used, I've been counting, I think we're up to about 25 times in this hearing. Deterrence is based upon two things: capacity and will. Usually we talk about weapons, but Ukraine is all about will. We can supply the capacity. The question is will. And as you point out, it would undermine the deterrence not only of the actions of China, perhaps toward Taiwan. It would certainly change Xi's calculus,” said Senator King.

Senator King also received Admiral Paparo’s support to ratify the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea – a comprehensive legal framework designed to help govern global oceans.

“Will the Americans actually be there, which would be an important part of his consideration. But also undermine, as you say, the confidence of our allies. Short question. We've talked about the South China Sea. We've talked about disputes with China. Would it be in the national interest for this body to ratify the Law of the Sea Treaty,” asked Senator King.

“Yes, sir,” said Admiral Paparo.

A member of the Senate Armed Services Committee and the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Senator King is recognized as an authoritative voice on national security and foreign policy issues. As the Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee Subcommittee on Strategic Forces which oversees the United States’ nuclear arsenal and posture Senator King has been a steady voice on the need to address the growing nuclear capacity of our adversaries. Senator King recently expressed concern about the emerging threats of Russia and China’s development of “nightmare weapon” hypersonic missiles, which he has described as “strategic game-changers.”


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