Ex-Trump adviser calls on U.S. to prepare for Ukrainian government in exileAmbassador Robert C. O'Brien
Donald Trump’s former White House national security adviser, Robert O’Brien, says the U.S. must develop plans to recognize a Ukrainian government in exile in the event Russian troops depose President Volodymyr Zelensky.
Driving the news: O’Brien told Axios if Russian troops invade Kyiv, he doesn’t see “any circumstance” in which Zelensky can remain, given U.S. warnings about Russia’s alleged possession of a “kill list.” He also urged President Biden to publicly vow never to recognize a Russian puppet government in Ukraine.
Why it matters: While Western attention is focused largely on military developments on Ukraine’s borders and how to respond with sanctions, O’Brien is the first former top U.S. official to call for a long-term political plan for whatever comes next.
Details: Funding for a government in exile would likely have to come from foreign aid, including the European Union, O’Brien said.
O’Brien said the West also should support an insurgency to fight back against the Russians in “occupied Ukraine,” and potentially help organize elections outside of Ukraine for expats and refugees.
Between the lines: Unlike some Republicans close to former President Trump, O’Brien believes helping Ukraine defend itself is in the U.S. interest and won’t detract from U.S. efforts to address China’s aggression in the Indo-Pacific.