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Failure to back Ukraine would send signal to China about taking Taiwan -US senator

By Sergiy Voloshin

KYIV (Reuters) - If the United States fails to back Ukraine enough in the war against Russia, that would send a signal to China that it could take Taiwan, a senior Senator said on a visit to Kyiv on Friday.

Lindsey Graham, a Republican, said after meeting President Volodymyr Zelenskiy that U.S. President Joe Biden should send more weapons to Ukraine in addition to the more than $35 billion of weaponry and military hardware already provided.

A hard line toward China is one of the few policies with bipartisan support in the deeply divided U.S. Congress.

Beijing considers Taiwan part of its territory. Chinese armed forces conducted exercises, fired missiles over Taiwan and cut military contacts with Washington after former House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited the self-governed island in August 2022.

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"There can be no backing off of helping Ukraine because if we fail here, there goes Taiwan," Graham told reporters.

"If you're running for President, as a Republican or Democrat, I don't know how you can make the argument that we're stronger against China if we pull the plug on Ukraine - that makes zero sense. What I want the Chinese to see is that invading a neighbor is not as easy as it looks."

He continued: "The best way to protect Taiwan and world order is for (Russian President Vladimir) Putin to lose."

In order for a long-anticipated Ukraine counteroffensive to succeed, its forces need more and better armaments, such as U.S.-made F-16 fighter jets and longer-range weapons, Graham said.

"There are weapons that matter and we've been too slow getting weapons that matter to the Ukrainian military ... my message to the Biden administration is, I appreciate what you have done. You need to do more," said Graham.

(Reporting by Sergiy Voloshin, writing by David Ljunggren; editing by Grant McCool)