Shrug. "Aiki" as a concept in Japanese martial arts well-predates aikido. There doesn't seem to be any doubt Ueshiba had some things in mind during his teaching, but "aiki" as a description of a type of waza is well established. Still, some of the parsing strikes me as reminiscent of arguments about what the pleats in a hakama "mean" - an odd question since that form of trousers far predates the principles typically bandied about. Sometimes, it's just pants.
Hakama without labels attached to the pleats, it's still pants.
Aikido without ki.... or without understanding of ki.... is not aikido.