Ukraine wants NATO-esque bloc to immediately defend border with Russia

A task force set up by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has called for the immediate creation of a new coalition of key partners, including the United States and several other NATO allies, to provide legally binding security guarantees in Kyiv as it attempts to eject Russian forces from its occupied territories.

The Kyiv Security Pact (KSC) – proposed by Andriy Yermak, the head of Zelensky’s office, and former NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen – would also establish a “multi-decade” plan for investment, military training and intelligence sharing to strengthen Ukraine’s defensive capabilities as the country seeks full NATO membership.

At a Tuesday press conference in Kyiv, Yermak and Rasmussen stressed that the KSC was not intended to replace NATO, but rather to establish a legally binding roadmap for the group to respond immediately to aggression. Russian.

“With the help of allies, Ukraine is successfully resisting this invasion,” Yermak said, as Ukrainian troops in the south and northeast of the country continued their offensives against occupying forces.

“However, it should be noted that decisions often had to be made ad hocand the development of mechanisms for this aid took a lot of time, which is always lacking in war, and which is bought with pain, blood and lives.”

Ukrainian President’s Office Chief Andriy Yermak speaks during a joint press conference with former United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and former Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos on August 16, 2022 in Kyiv, Kyiv Ukraine.
Alexei Furman/Getty Images

Security guarantees for Ukraine, Yermak said, should not be based on “wishful thinking” like past agreements; in particular the 1994 Budapest Memorandum by which Ukraine returned Soviet-era nuclear warheads.

Consultations with possible partners will begin “immediately”, Yermak said. Among those presented as signatories are the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Poland, Italy, Germany, France, Australia and Turkey, as well as several Nordic, Baltic and European countries. Central Europe.

“These security safeguards should come into effect as soon as possible,” Rasmussen said. “We must not wait for the end of the conflict.”

It’s unclear who might be willing to contribute. Leading partners like the US and UK have already been reluctant to sign new security guarantees for Ukraine, while providing large amounts of military equipment to help repel the Russian invasion.

“Of course we tested the waters,” Rasmussen said. “We deliberately did not ask for government commitments at this stage. What we wanted was to prepare recommendations for President Zelensky, recommendations as we see them that will work most effectively.”

Yermak added, “When we started working, nobody really paid attention to it. But today, I received requests from almost all of our partners. They are eagerly waiting for this document to come out, they are waiting with looking forward to further consultations.”

Yermak and Rasmussen see the pact as a set of bilateral agreements with the named countries.

Such agreements would establish “sustained investment in Ukraine’s defense industrial base, scalable arms transfers and intelligence support from allies, intensive training missions and joint military exercises.” of the European Union and NATO,” the KSC’s proposal reads.

Ukrainian officials have sharply criticized the failures of the EU and NATO to properly arm Kyiv and impose preemptive sanctions on Moscow in the weeks before the Russian invasion in February, when President Vladimir Putin ordered the dispatch hundreds of thousands of soldiers on the Ukrainian borders.

A broader group – whose supporters want to include Japan and South Korea, among others – would help create a list of sanctions that would be automatically applied in the event of Russian aggression.

This would also include measures allowing foreign governments to seize Russian state property and money, as well as assets belonging to people and entities added to the sanctions list.

Ukraine and its partners must “learn the lessons of the past”, Rasmussen said.

As such, the KSC is calling for bilateral agreements to quickly provide Kyiv with comprehensive anti-aircraft and anti-missile systems to close the skies to aggressor aircraft, something Ukraine still demands from its foreign backers seven months after the start of the war.

The Black Sea – another area of ​​Ukraine’s weakness where Russia initially imposed a costly naval blockade – could also be covered by bilateral agreements with regional states such as Turkey, Romania and Bulgaria, Yermak and Rasmussen said. .

Abandoned Russian vehicle near Izyum Kharkiv Offensive
A Russian armored vehicle lies abandoned in Izyum, Ukraine, shortly after it was liberated by the Ukrainian military on September 11, 2022. Ukraine wants new security guarantees to deter future aggression from Moscow.
Laurent Van der Stockt for Le Monde/Getty Images

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