Ukraine urges West for security guarantees


The Ukrainian government has teamed up with a former NATO chief to propose a new security pact between Western governments and Ukraine inspired in part by the US government’s relationship with Israel. Former NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen visited Washington last week to lay the groundwork for presenting the plan to the United States and other top Western allies.

“They [the Ukrainians] pay a high price in life and treasure. The least we can do is help them in every way,” he said in a recent interview with Foreign Police.

The plan, called the Kyiv Security Pact, is seeking legally binding security guarantees for Ukraine from a coalition of Western countries to strengthen its ability to repel Russian attacks through extensive joint training, the provision of advanced defense systems and support to develop the country’s own defense industrial base. Despite Ukraine’s recent success in repelling Russian troops from large swathes of eastern and southern Ukraine, the country’s vulnerability was underscored on Monday as Russian missile strikes hit critical infrastructure and civilian sites in cities across the country, including the capital of Kyiv.

The Ukrainian government has teamed up with a former NATO chief to propose a new security pact between Western governments and Ukraine inspired in part by the US government’s relationship with Israel. Former NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen visited Washington last week to lay the groundwork for presenting the plan to the United States and other top Western allies.

“They [the Ukrainians] pay a high price in life and treasure. The least we can do is help them in every way,” he said in a recent interview with Foreign Police.

The plan, called the Kyiv Security Pact, is seeking legally binding security guarantees for Ukraine from a coalition of Western countries to strengthen its ability to repel Russian attacks through extensive joint training, the provision of advanced defense systems and support to develop the country’s own defense industrial base. Despite Ukraine’s recent success in repelling Russian troops from large swathes of eastern and southern Ukraine, the country’s vulnerability was underscored on Monday as Russian missile strikes hit critical infrastructure and civilian sites in cities across the country, including the capital of Kyiv.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has pledged to fast-track his country’s NATO bid, but Western officials and experts doubt the bid will gain any traction in the short term as the war continues. But the proposed pact would effectively serve as a form of temporary Western protection for Ukraine as it seeks to become a full member of the NATO alliance.

Rasmussen characterized the pact as essentially a formal codification of Western support already extended to Ukraine since the start of the invasion in February. Rasmussen has worked with Andriy Yermak, Zelensky’s chief of staff, on the proposal since May and this month officially began presenting the plan to NATO governments, starting with Washington.

Rasmussen drew comparisons between the proposed security pact and US security cooperation with Israel – countries that see themselves as close military and political allies with layers of bilateral defense cooperation and defense agreements mutual but do not have a formal defense treaty. “We studied different models of security guarantees, including Taiwan, Israel, historical security guarantees, etc. said Rasmussen. “This one is pretty close to what you saw between the US and Israel.”

Former US officials and European diplomats who reviewed the pact acknowledged the need to address the thorny issue of maintaining Western support for Ukraine over the long term, but were divided on whether the document would be able to fill this gap.

“I appreciate what they’re trying to do,” said Jim Townsend, who served as the US Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Europe and NATO during the Obama administration. He warned that trying to be too ambitious with the pact could undermine efforts to get it fully off the ground. “It’s the perfect being the enemy of the good.”

With US military aid to Ukraine dwarfing that provided by other countries, Rasmussen acknowledged that the plan relied on US support. “Without the active support of the United States, it’s just a theory,” he said. Between January and early August, according to the Kiel Institute for the World Economy Ukraine Support TrackingWashington has pledged more than $24 billion in military aid, more than six times that of the second largest donor, the United Kingdom.

Rasmussen called the proposed security pact part of a long-term response to the West’s longstanding challenge with Russia, rather than an act of charity towards Ukraine, as Washington tries to spend more of resources to geopolitical competition with China. “If we succeed, the security guarantees given to Ukraine could solve the Russian problem, because it is in the interests of the United States to have a strong and stable Eastern European partner as a bulwark against the Russian attacks.

“If you have stability in Europe, the United States can devote more resources to what is the real long-term global challenge: China,” he said.

The proposed pact acknowledges that the 1994 Budapest Memorandum, in which Washington, London and Moscow promised security guarantees to Kyiv in exchange for giving up its Soviet-era nuclear arsenal, has “proved worthless “. The pact would seek to codify Western support for Ukraine into law.

“Ukrainians rightly say that [the Budapest Memorandum] was a completely useless piece of paper, that they don’t need another useless piece of paper to make everyone feel better,” said Heather Conley, President of the German Marshall Fund of the United States. “They need commitments and capabilities to enable Ukraine to protect its people and infrastructure…but the devil is in the details of who provides the systems and how those commitments are secured, if secured. .”

Current and former officials who have been briefed on the plan also acknowledge that while NATO keeps the door open to Ukraine’s possible membership, it is unlikely to happen in the short term, as Russia continues to wage war on Ukrainian soil. Senior US and NATO officials have repeatedly said they want to prevent the conflict from escalating into a direct military confrontation between NATO and Russia, even as they continue to deliver weapons to the Ukraine. A foundation of the NATO alliance is the Mutual Defense Pact, detailed in Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty, which states that an attack on one member is an attack on all members.

“Everyone recognizes that in order to move forward, Ukraine needs certain codified commitments. It must somehow be lower than Article 5 but higher than the Budapest Memorandum,” said a senior Central European diplomat briefed on the plan, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to s speak out publicly on the issue. “Everyone is ready to take a look at it, but it will be really difficult to work on the substance so that all our governments agree.

“Everyone, including Washington, understands that Ukraine needs guarantees and commitments, even if the word ‘guarantee’ sounds a bit toxic,” the diplomat added.

While the United States provides robust military aid to other beleaguered partners such as Israel and Taiwan, those relationships are governed by acts of Congress and memoranda of understanding. Other legally binding guarantees for Ukraine, such as full NATO membership, would require a treaty to be passed by a two-thirds vote in the Senate. “The bar is set too high in terms of legal binding,” Townsend said.

Non-binding agreements could, however, be canceled or watered down by future US administrations, which could fuel Ukraine’s desire for ironclad guarantees. “Think of the JCPOA,” Townsend said, referring to the Iran nuclear deal that was scrapped by the Trump administration, an abdication that supercharged Iran’s nuclear program. “It wasn’t legally binding, it wasn’t a treaty, and look what happened.”

As winter approaches and Europe and the United States face recessions and rising energy prices, fears have begun to mount that support for Ukraine could fade then that national challenges take center stage. At the same time, Western countries have shown themselves willing to provide more sophisticated equipment to Kyiv as the war dragged on.

“If you look at Western support for Ukraine from February to March and April, it was very disappointing,” said Kurt Volker, former US ambassador to NATO. “From May to where we are now, the West has become more supportive and more assertive.”

Volker said the best way to secure Ukraine in the long term was to focus on the country’s eventual NATO membership, rather than a stopgap option.

“It’s good to have that [Kyiv Security Compact] as an alternative that people can chew,” said Volker, who also served as US special envoy to Ukraine. “But when you start pitting it against actual NATO membership, and you start looking at that as a possibility at a time when Russia has been defeated and accepted to live within its own borders , NATO is better.”

Volker, who is optimistic about Ukraine’s prospects for NATO membership once the war is over, said the Biden administration is unlikely to sign any legally binding security guarantees.

“If the United States as a nation commits to the defense of any country in Europe, we would much rather do it through NATO, where 30 other countries are also committed to that defence,” he said. he declared.

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