WASHINGTON (AA) – The U.S. is unlikely to intervene militarily to defend countries seeking NATO membership, according to a top expert.
“The idea that we’re going to go to war against a nuclear armed Russia to defend you, or to defend the Ukrainians is not going to happen,” John Mearsheimer told Tinatin Khidasheli, Georgia’s Defense Minister and his fellow panelist at an event hosted by the Atlantic Council think tank on Wednesday.
Describing the U.S.’s pivot to Asia as “almost for certain”, Mearshimer said the shift would likely result in a pivot away from Europe “because Russia is a declining great power.
“The exact opposite is true with China, and the United States is going to have its hands full dealing with the Chinese,” he said.
That could result in the U.S. co-opting its Cold War rival in a bid to tip the balance of power.
“In an ideal world you’d want the Russians on your side as part of the balancing coalition against the Chinese so don’t be surprised if over time the United States gets closer to the Russians because we need them against the Chinese,” he added.
So far, despite its blustery rhetoric, the U.S. has not taken military action after Russia invaded Georgia and annexed its South Ossetia region in 2008, or when Moscow annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014.
Russia retains military control of the regions, largely uncontested.
"Why are we even thinking about NATO expansion and giving Article Five guarantees to these countries who we've already made it clear we won't defend military," Mearsheimer said, referring to NATO's collective defense article.