In the past two weeks, the Russian military invasion of Ukraine has shown the world Vladimir PutinVladimir Vladimirovich PutinInternational Criminal Court to issue ruling on allegations of genocide against Russia Overnight Defense & National Security — Presented by AM General — US worried China may help Russia Lawmaker pressure on Biden hits its limits MORE’s willingness to violently challenge the international system where American strength has guaranteed peace and guided the world for more than half a century. In doing so, Putin seeks to establish a new authoritarian-centric world order, beneficial to his regime and the Chinese Communist Party. Not since the Axis powers in World War II has the world faced such an existential threat. 

Plans for this new Sino-Russian alliance are already being put into place. Just last month, Putin and Communist Chinese President Xi Jinping convened a summit aimed at uniting the two nations against the Free World. The summit, held only weeks before the invasion, made evident the magnitude of the threat that the two nations pose as a united front.  

While Ukrainians are fighting for democracy halfway across the globe, Americans at home are feeling the strain of increased oil prices from cutting off Russian oil imports, compounding the effects of the Biden administration reversing years of increased domestic oil production. Meanwhile, the possibility of a greater economic challenge looms from a conflict with China. Imports from China of materials used in the manufacturing of American-made products could put the U.S. into a tough situation if China were to become involved in the Russia conflict or invade Taiwan. 

The strength of U.S. economic sanctions on Russia will have an influence on how an actor like China might move forward in a future invasion of Taiwan. With a joint statement from Putin and Xi touting that the friendship between the two nations “has no limits” and that there are “no forbidden areas of cooperation,” it is safe to say the partnership will continue amid the Russian invasion. The two nations have struck fresh new deals in oil imports with agreements worth $117.5 billion in new exports from Russia to China.  

China, however, is in a dilemma of their own, having felt the pressure of U.S. sanctions in the recent past. During the Trump administration, the U.S. sanctioned Chinese technology conglomerate Huawei, who at the time was the largest producer of smartphones in the world. Since then, Huawei has become significantly less influential in the tech arena and new competitors have grown. If China decided to act in the future against Taiwan or attempt to assist Russia in evading U.S sanctions or export controls, the U.S. could respond with swift sanctions. Chinese trade retaliation could also drive up the prices of Chinese imports used by American businesses and manufacturers, causing greater economic strain than is currently being experienced from restricting Russian energy imports. 

The two most evident conclusions taken from the behavior of both Russia and China are clear: The United States must not rely on imports of essential materials from adversaries and it is paramount that we ramp up defense spending for the sake of our own nation and for the sake of the Free World.  

The first step is increasing U.S. energy independence by having President BidenJoe BidenSaudi Arabia invites China’s Xi to visit Riyadh: report Biden attends in-person DNC fundraiser to tout climate agenda Man charged with attempted murder, hate crimes after NY Asian woman punched 125 times MORE remove the freeze on new oil and gas projects and expedite U.S. pipeline construction and operation. The Keystone XL pipeline alone would move 830,000 barrels of oil per day, which would reduce reliance on Russian oil. Recent figures have indicated we import over 600,000 barrels per day from Russia. Becoming energy independent must be a topline priority if we are to see oil prices decrease and prevent another energy crisis from occurring in the future.  

In light of Russia’s aggression and their renewed alliance with China, a strong defense budget is a necessity in the current era of warfare. Ensuring a solid defense industrial base is a priority to meet our defense needs, especially for future conflicts involving the Cyber and Space arenas. America faces threats unlike any we have seen in the past and we must be prepared to counter them at a moment’s notice. We must also increase our funding and development of future weapons, akin to the edge that the U.S. held at the end of the Cold War.  

Strengthening our research, development, and procurement abilities are not the only investments we should be making. We must aid our allies and NATO to prevent another Ukraine-like situation. This includes taking a stronger stance with our friends in Taiwan. While the U.S. has been heightening cohesion with the island nation in recent years, we cannot make the same mistake in waiting until the final hour to prepare for a defense of Taiwan as we did with Ukraine. Having strong, prepared allies ensures not only their safety on the world stage but acts as a deterrent against forces that might seek to harm their liberty as sovereign nations.  

With every innovation comes a potential new threat, and with every threat comes the responsibility to protect freedom and liberty. The United States has always stood as a beacon of freedom and hope along with a living example of liberty in action. Although China and Russia have their own unique ideologies, they share two specific commonalities: Authoritarianism on their home soil and unbridled hostility towards the United States of America.  

President Reagan once said, “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same.” As we look to the future, I firmly believe we must not waver in the face of the authoritarian regimes who seek to destroy freedom-loving countries. It is time to reassert American strength to guarantee peace and freedom — here at home and for our allies. 

Aderholt represents Alabama’s 4th District and is a member of the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee.

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