The former vice president is “convinced” that if Ukraine doesn’t repel Russia, “it’s not going to be too long” before Russia forces NATO to get involved.
Former Vice President Mike Pence warned this week that if Russian forces are not repelled in Ukraine, U.S. military service members may have to step up to the fight.
Mr. Pence, who is running for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, made those remarks in an extended response to a question about how he would end the war in Ukraine if he is elected.
Ukraine is bordered to the west by Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, and Romania; all of which are NATO members. Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania also form the eastern edge of the NATO alliance and directly border Russia.
Article 5 of the NATO treaty specifies that if a member nation is attacked, the other members will treat the attack as one against the entire alliance and will take whatever actions they deem appropriate to assist the targeted member nation.
Former President Donald Trump, who is seeking to return to the White House with the Republican nomination, has said he could bring an end to the war between Russia and Ukraine within 24 hours. Mr. Pence, who served as President Trump’s running mate in 2016 and 2020, pushed back on that idea during the Wednesday town hall interview.
“The only way you can end the war in Ukraine in 24 hours is by letting [Russian President Vladimir Putin] have everything he wants,” he said.
The Russian president has said throughout the war that his forces are in Ukraine to demilitarize the country and to protect pro-Russian separatists in the country’s east. He has also said he wants Ukraine to declare neutrality and refrain from entering the NATO alliance. Mr. Pence, on the other hand, asserted that Mr. Putin “has been very clear that his ambition is to reclaim the old Soviet sphere of influence in eastern Europe.”
Pence’s Peace Plan: Keep Arming Ukraine
Mr. Pence said continuing to send military resources to Ukraine would be the best way to contain the conflict in that country and allow the Ukrainian side to eventually repel the Russian forces altogether.
“Give [Ukrainian forces] the resources that they need to fight and to win and to drive that Russian military back,” he said. “Because it’s in our interests and I think, ultimately, it’s in the interests of peace and security in the world.”
Thus far in the 18 months since Russian forces invaded Ukraine, fighting has largely been contained to the country’s east. The United States and its NATO allies have continued to send weapons, including anti-tank and anti-aircraft launchers, howitzers, rocket artillery systems, precision missiles, drones, tanks, and other armored fighting vehicles. In recent months, the NATO alliance has also agreed to send fighter jets to the Ukrainian side.
Mr. Pence argued that under President Joe Biden’s leadership, the military aid to Ukraine has only come through in “dribs and drabs.”
Mr. Pence said even a partial Russian victory in Ukraine, wherein Mr. Putin achieves at least some of his objectives, would embolden China in its own expansive territorial ambitions.
“If Putin somehow wins either all or part of what he wants in Ukraine, I think that’s going to embolden China’s military ambitions in the Asian Pacific,” Mr. Pence said.”
Mr. Pence raised particular concern that China could seek to invade Taiwan. While Taiwan is a self-governing democratic republic, China claims the island is part of its territory. Chinese communist leaders have increasingly indicated they seek to “reunify” the island with the Chinese mainland under its ruling Chinese Communist Party.
“You achieve peace through strength,” Mr. Pence said. “By using what amounts to 3 percent of our national defense budget, as we have so far to support the Ukrainian military, let them push back the Russians. I think that will discourage China from its military ambitions in the Asian Pacific, especially with regard to Taiwan. That’s how we achieve a more peaceful future, and that’s what it means to be a leader of the free world.”
Mr. Pence also argued that fading U.S. support for Ukraine, including among many Republican voters and some candidates, is because they lack confidence in President Biden’s leadership and not because they increasingly prefer an isolationist or non-interventionist mentality.