August 7th, 2023

by Ellen Mitchell

The GOP is criticizing President Biden over his response to China and Russia’s joint naval patrol near Alaska last week, calling out the commander in chief for what they claim is a tepid response.

The U.S. Navy dispatched four destroyers and a P-8 Poseidon reconnaissance airplane last week after 11 Chinese and Russian ships conducted a joint naval patrol near Alaska’s Aleutian Islands, coming near the coast without entering U.S. territorial waters.

U.S. Northern Command later said that the foreign fleet “was not considered a threat,” according to The Wall Street Journal, which first reported the patrol.

But several high-profile Republicans took the incident as an opportunity to claim Biden is neglecting to properly stock the Navy’s fleet, which is on track to include 293 ships.

“Under President Biden, Russia and China threaten to conquer their neighbors & their new Axis is now operating together off the American coast,” former Vice President Mike Pence wrote on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter.

“America needs a new Commander-in-Chief who understands the threat and will build a much bigger navy, new shipyards and a military fitted to the widening threats of the 21st Century. The enemies of freedom only understand strength,” Pence added.

Rep. Mike Waltz (R-Fla.), a former Green Beret, similarly attacked Biden over his proposed defense budget for next year. The administration earlier this year put forward a plan to buy nine warships and decommission 11 vessels in fiscal 2024, which begins Oct. 1.

“China and Russia sends 11 warships off the coast of Alaska and we can only pull together 4 to respond to defend the homeland,” Waltz posted on X. “Yet Biden’s defense budget is retiring more ships than its building!”

Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.), the fourth-ranking House Republican, asserted “Biden’s continued weakness on the world stage has emboldened our adversaries in Moscow and Beijing.”

Alaska’s two Republican senators, Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan, meanwhile, did not go after Biden but repeated calls to increase military funding for their state.

“This is a stark reminder of Alaska’s proximity to both China and Russia, as well as the essential role our state plays in our national defense and territorial sovereignty,” Murkowski said in a joint statement with Sullivan.

Sullivan said he has “been pressing the Navy and each successive administration to commit to a greater Naval, Coast Guard, and Marine Corps presence in Alaska, more Arctic-capable vessels, and more infrastructure to host these assets.”

Moscow and Beijing have significantly strengthened their defense and economic ties in the past year over tensions with the U.S. regarding Ukraine, which Russia invaded in February 2022, and Taiwan, which China claims as its sovereign territory and threatened to take control of by force.

See the full article from The Hill here.