With tensions rising over Ukraine, there is a growing consensus that the United States and other NATO countries are shirking their commitment to the alliance’s guiding principle: the principle of collective defense.
With the Trump administration signaling a reversal of U.S. policy by pulling out of the 2014 Ukraine package for deterrence and defense, as well as all but accepting Russia’s actions in the Baltics and Crimea, there is a concern among many inside the alliance that the U.S. is taking its special contribution for the protection of Europe for granted. This is especially true after the recent collapse of the Minsk Protocols, which Washington was steadfastly supporting, after talks between the sides and the United Nations Security Council. And this past April, President Trump tweeted that the United States is not obligated to defend Ukraine.
While the U.S. has been vague in many of these remarks, the basic fact is that America, along with its allies, would stand ready to defend Ukraine from a potential Russian attack and it is unlikely that the U.S. would allow its own treaty obligations to be unilaterally violated. To renege on that commitment, this requires significant, unequivocal action by President Trump, something that he has yet to do publicly.