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Two years on: Will Washington remain a reliable ally to Ukraine?

Article by Dr Andrew Gawthorpe

February 20, 2024

Two years on: Will Washington remain a reliable ally to Ukraine?

Two years after the renewed Russian invasion of Ukraine, war weariness has descended on Washington. The initial American reaction to the attack seemed to be a fulfillment of President Joe Biden’s promise that “America is back”.[1] After the chaos of the Trump years, Washington took on its traditional role as the leader of an international coalition of states, in this case coordinating the provision of international assistance to Kyiv. Since then, the United States has provided about $75 billion in aid to Ukraine.[2]


Continued American assistance now seems in doubt, mostly due to shifts within the Republican Party, which controls the House of Representatives. The party’s supporters increasingly oppose aid to Ukraine and demand a focus on perceived problems at home. Their leader, Donald Trump, has long sought friendly relations with Vladimir Putin and has promised to end the war in “24 hours” if elected, presumably by pressuring Kyiv to cede territory to Russia.[3] While a new tranche of aid has been approved by the Senate, it looks unlikely to be passed by the House.


American support for Ukraine has also been undermined by the poor results of Kyiv’s 2023 offensive, in which a substantial number of American-trained and equipped troops failed to make substantial headway in regaining Ukrainian territory. American military commanders have been critical of the Ukrainian military’s tactics and have begun to concede that further breakthroughs by Kyiv seem unlikely.[4] As a result, the Biden administration has begun to shift its approach and prepare for what it views as inevitable negotiations in which Ukraine will be forced to make territorial concessions to Russia.[5]


Barring a sudden Ukrainian military collapse this summer, the next decisive event in the conflict will likely be the US presidential election later this year. The Biden administration may have decided that negotiations are inevitable, but unlike Trump it does not intend to pressure Kyiv into joining them. Meanwhile, Putin is likely to wait for the outcome of the election before entering serious talks, given that he would be able to achieve much better results if Trump were in office.[6]


Washington’s fraying support for Ukraine also has broader implications. If isolationist and Russia-friendly Republicans can pull the plug on American support even under a strongly internationalist president, then many other American security guarantees – for instance to NATO or Taiwan – begin to look questionable. As a result, America’s domestic political divisions, which only look set to widen in a contentious election year, may well persuade many other countries that the time has come to reassess whether Washington is still a reliable ally.


Andrew Gawthorpe is an expert on US foreign policy and politics at Leiden University and the creator of America Explained, a podcast and newsletter. He was formerly a research fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School, a teaching fellow at the UK Defence Academy, and a civil servant in the Cabinet Office.


[1] Joe Biden, Remarks By President Biden On America’s Place In The World,, February 2021,

[2] Jonathan Masters and Will Merrow, How Much Aid Has The U.S. Sent Ukraine? Here Are Six Charts, Council on Foreign Relations, December 2023,

[3] Jack Forrest, Trump Won’t Commit to Backing Ukraine in War with Russia, CNN, May 2023,

[4] Washington Post Staff, Miscalculations, Divisions Marked Offensive Planning By U.S., Ukraine, The Washington Post, December 2023,; Washington Post Staff, In Ukraine, A War Of Incremental Gains As Counteroffensive Stalls, The Washington Post, December 2023,

[5] Michael Hirsh, The Biden Administration Is Quietly Shifting Its Strategy in Ukraine, Politico, December 2023,

[6] Michael Crowley, U.S. Rejects Putin’s Latest Call for Ukraine Negotiations, The New York Times, February 2024,


Disclaimer: The views expressed in this piece are those of the author and do not reflect the views of The Foreign Policy Centre.

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