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Wednesday, May 22, 2024

US won’t fight for Ukraine – White House

Washington has no intention of directly engaging Russian forces on Kiev’s behalf, a senior official has said

The US will not shoot down Russian drones and missiles fired at Ukraine, in contrast to how American forces protected Israel from an Iranian attack last weekend, White House national security spokesman John Kirby told journalists on Monday.

The US, the UK and France helped Israel repel a massive barrage launched by Iran in retaliation for what Tehran said was an Israeli strike on its consulate in Damascus earlier this month. Kirby was asked during a daily briefing whether the same tactics could be used in the Ukraine conflict.

Read more: Israel urges sanctions in ‘diplomatic offensive’ against Iran

“I knew this question was coming,” he responded. “Look: different conflicts, different airspace, different threat picture. And [President Joe Biden] has been clear from the beginning [of the Ukraine hostilities] that the US is not going to be involved in that conflict in a combat role.”

Western powers have pledged to provide assistance to Kiev “for as long as it takes” to defeat Russia. However, they have repeatedly rejected the idea of directly engaging Russian forces. Even the French government, which has not ruled out deploying troops to Ukraine, made it clear that any hypothetical mission would be to relieve Ukrainian soldiers of non-combat duties, so that Kiev could send more of its own troops to the front line.

British Foreign Secretary David Cameron was asked the same question as Kirby during an interview with LBC on Monday.

Read more: Israel promises ‘response’ to Iranian attack

“Actually, putting NATO forces directly in conflict with Russian forces – I think that would be a dangerous escalation,” he said. Instead of “Western planes over [its] skies trying to shoot things down,” Ukraine instead requires air defense systems, Cameron suggested.

Moscow perceives the Ukraine conflict as a US-led proxy war on Russia, in which Ukrainians are being used as ‘cannon fodder’. It has warned that it will consider any military assets directly engaged in hostilities as legitimate targets, regardless of who operates them.