House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said the Russian invasion of Ukraine should serve as a “lesson” for a possible Chinese invasion of Taiwan, arguing President Biden needs to act sooner on beefing up Taiwan’s military so it can have a better chance of defending itself.
During an Easter morning appearance on “Fox News Sunday,” McCarthy, R-Calif., slammed the Biden administration for being too slow to provide arms to Ukraine ahead of the invasion.
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“This is going to get stronger and rougher,” McCarthy said. “And what really needs to happen is, Ukraine is not asking for American men and women to fight. All they’re asking for is the weapons to defend themselves. If we would have taken those actions earlier, instead of waiting until after Russia invaded, they probably never would have invaded had we done that sooner.”
McCarthy said acting sooner on arming Ukrainians would have “saved thousands of lives” and likely would have deterred Russian President Vladimir Putin from invading in the first place.
“I had this discussion with President Biden long before, when he just would threaten sanctions after Putin entered. I believe Putin never worried about the sanctions. He only looks at, could he be deterred from entering Ukraine?” McCarthy said. “Ukraine was craving the ability to defend themselves. Had we moved the weapons to Ukraine earlier, that they could defend themselves, it would have saved thousands of lives and probably the decision of Putin not to enter.”
“And then after Putin entered, we had President Biden tell us, ‘Well, the sanctions take a long time to work.’ And then the president denied Ukraine and denied Poland for providing MiGs to Ukraine to protect themselves on a flyover,” he continued. “All of that is a wrong action going forward.”
McCarthy said the president must learn from his mistakes on Ukraine in the event China decides to move militarily against Taiwan.
“What we need to do is learn from here … but also look to the future of what China is doing,” he said. “Taiwan has been waiting more than a year for weapons they’ve already purchased to defend themselves. Let democracies defend themselves. This is a lesson we should learn today.”
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China continues to claim that Taiwan is part of its national territory and not an independent country after the two split in 1949. The communist country has been building up its military presence in the South China Sea, stoking fears that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine will embolden Chinese President Xi Jinping to try to reclaim Taiwan.
On Friday, China staged military exercises in areas opposite Taiwan while a delegation of six U.S. lawmakers, led by Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, met with Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen.
The military drills conducted by the People’s Liberation Army’s Eastern Theater Command were “a countermeasure to the recent negative actions of the U.S., including the visit of a delegation of lawmakers to Taiwan,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said, adding that China would “continue to take strong measures to resolutely safeguard its sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
The U.S. has been providing weapons to Taiwan since the Taiwan Relations Act was passed in 1979, but some experts argue the island needs a significant increase in support amid China’s military posturing.
Matthew McInnis from the Institute for the Study of War stressed that any sanctions will not prove effective unless they’re accompanied by a “full-spectrum campaign” that includes the threat of use of force, effective political and diplomatic maneuvers, information sharing and increased weapons supplies.
“Economic sanctions simply do not work on their own,” McInnis told Fox News Digital in an interview last month, citing his experience managing maximum pressure campaigns for the State Department. “The other issues is … it’s very clear that increased air defense capabilities and anti-armor – the things that have proven to be so effective for the Ukrainian forces – I think we need to take a little more risk in upping the air defense and anti-armor and anti-drone capabilities in a potential Taiwan scenario.”
Fox News’ Peter Aitken and The Associated Press contributed to this report.