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16 Oct, 2023 11:54

Ukraine is not a US ally – ex-Pentagon official

Washington “had never committed to defend” Kiev, so failure to do so wouldn’t hurt America’s credibility, according to Elbridge Colby
Ukraine is not a US ally – ex-Pentagon official

Ukraine has never enjoyed the status of a US ally, meaning that Washington has no obligation to defend it per se, ex-Pentagon defense strategist Elbridge Colby has argued. The former official, who now heads The Marathon Initiative think-tank, put the leadership in Kiev on the same level as the now-defunct Afghan government, which was overthrown by the Taliban back in 2021.

In a message on X (formerly Twitter) published on Saturday, Colby, who served as deputy assistant secretary of defense for strategy and force development from 2017 till 2018, wrote that “Ukraine was not and is not an ally, and we had never committed to defend it.” He noted that “US alliance credibility wasn’t in play” when Russia launched its military operation against the neighboring state last February.

The post came in response to an assertion by another X user, who claimed that the botched US withdrawal from Afghanistan had emboldened Russia to start its military action less than six months later.

In a previous thread of messages, Colby defended the position that the “debacle of the Afghanistan withdrawal” had damaged America’s credibility to a lesser extent than some contend. The former top Pentagon staffer went on to argue that the US kept standing by its real allies in Europe and Asia, while the Afghan government was somewhat dispensable.

Our relationship with our established allies was different than with Afghanistan and the threat posed by China or Russia greater than the Taliban,” he wrote, adding that it is for this reason that “NATO and our NE Asian alliances didn’t collapse. Nor did our opponents assault them.

Last Wednesday, commenting on the impasse in the US Congress following the ouster of Kevin McCarthy earlier this month, National Security Council spokesman John Kirby warned that while Washington would “keep that aid going as long as we can,” it is “not going to be indefinite.

A growing number of Republican lawmakers have been voicing skepticism over the continuation of US aid for Ukraine. The issue lay at the heart of McCarthy’s removal, as some fellow GOP congress members suspected he had cut a secret deal with the administration of President Joe Biden to approve more funding for Kiev.

Meanwhile, an opinion poll by Reuters-Ipsos published earlier this month indicated that the number of Americans in favor of giving Ukraine more aid had dropped to 41%, 24 percentage points down from the figure recorded in June. The survey showed that the trend was noticeable both among Democrats and Republicans.