After two world wars originating in Europe, 10 European countries, along with Canada and the United States, established the North American Treaty Organization (NATO) in 1949. The Military alliance, which was designed to secure lasting peace in Europe, has since grown to more than 30 countries.
A key principle of NATO is that of collective defense. If one of its members is attacked by a foreign power, it's considered an attack on all NATO members and is dealt with accordingly.
That's why Russian leader Vladimir Putin is extremely invested in Ukraine never becoming a NATO member. Since the country, which neighbors Russia, gained independence, Putin has worked aggressively to reclaim it. He's worked to install corrupt pro-Kremlin politicians as Ukraine's heads of state. He infamously invaded Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula, eventually annexing it, in 2014. Now, he's amassed a growing number of Russian troops on Ukraine's border, signaling another potential invasion.
While Ukraine isn't yet a NATO member, the United States and other allies have pledged to defend the fledgling democracy against Russian aggression, usually through monetary and defense aid.
Allyship with Ukraine was once a bipartisan position, but a growing number of Republican media personalities and elected officials have voiced opposition to it. Far-right Fox News host Tucker Carlson—who in 2019 once openly said he sided with Russia over the democratic nation—recently slammed Republicans for adopting tougher responses to Putin's continued aggression against Ukraine.
Now, in a letter to Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, far-right Senator Josh Hawley of Missouri has come out in opposition to the United States' support for Ukraine's addition to NATO.
Arguing that the U.S. should continue aiding Ukraine, but devote more resources to the prevention of Chinese hegemony in the Indo-Pacific region, Hawley wrote:
"This Administration’s support for Ukraine’s membership in NATO defies these realities. The United States has an interest in maintaining Ukraine’s independence, sovereignty, and territorial integrity. Our interest is not so strong, however, as to justify committing the United States to go to war with Russia over Ukraine’s fate. ... Russia’s buildup on Ukraine’s borders makes apparent just how important it is for the United States to be deliberate about its commitments abroad."
Keep in mind, Ukraine's membership in NATO would be one of the strongest protections to a democracy still in relative infancy, thanks to the collective defense principle. Hawley's position is a major reversal from the long-held Republican priority of remaining tough on Kremlin expansion.
For his part, Putin has demanded that NATO vow never to allow Ukraine's membership, claiming Ukraine would attempt to reabsorb Crimea and trigger a war with Russia that would spiral out of control. NATO members have refused to make this pledge.
In a blistering tweet, Republican Congressman Adam Kinzinger of Illinois sounded off against Hawley's position, in an attack that he himself admitted was personal.
Calling Hawley "one of the worst human beings" and a "self egrandizing [sic] con artist," the Republican Congressman—an anti-Trumper who has decided not to run for reelection—expressed hope that "this evil" would be publicly exposed.
Other social media users couldn't help but agree.
Though Kinzinger voted with Trump 90 percent of the latter's time in the White House, The Congressman has become a pariah within the Republican party for his opposition to Trump's election lies and the deadly insurrection in which these lies culminated.
Conservative responses to Kinzinger's tweet not only reflected disdain for the Congressman, but shifting attitudes on foreign policy towards Russia.
While Biden has deployed American troops to eastern Europe for assistance, the President still insists he has no intention of sending U.S. troops to fight in Ukraine.