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Security guarantees for Ukraine: what Kyiv requires and what scared Russia

Ukraine has proposed a draft of security guarantees for Kyiv from the Western partners, which was co-developed by former NATO secretary general Anders Fogh Rasmussen. Although these guarantees haven’t been approved, they have already scared Russia with the change of rhetoric in the last six months. What’s interesting about them?

Security guarantees for Ukraine: what they entail

International experts, together with the President’s chief of staff Andrii Yermak and former NATO secretary general Anders Fogh Rasmussen, have developed the following key recommendations for security guarantees to be given to Ukraine:

  • The strongest security guarantee for Ukraine lies in its capacity to defend itself against an aggressor, so Kyiv should be given the resources to maintain a significant defensive force capable of containing the Russian Federation.
  • To resist the Kremlin, Ukraine requires a multi-decade effort of sustained investment in Ukraine’s defense industrial base, scalable weapons transfers, and intelligence support from allies, intensive training missions and joint exercises under the European Union and NATO flags.
  • The security guarantees should be positive and binding based on bilateral agreements but brought together under a joint strategic partnership document — called the Kyiv Security Compact.
  • The allied countries could include the U.S., U.K., Canada, Poland, Italy, Germany, France, Australia, Turkey, and Nordic, Baltic, Central, and Eastern European countries.

Training for the Ukrainian army and sanctions against Russia

The package of guarantees provides for both preventive measures and measures in case of a new invasion of Ukraine, which include a full-scale sanction package against Russia, the provision of Ukraine with modern air defense systems, etc.

Moreover, the AFU will have to be trained to NATO standards, with the training activities taking place both in Ukraine and in EU or NATO countries.

Countries outside the recommended list can give Ukraine non-military guarantees, for example on sanctions against Russia.

Sanctions imposed on Russia should remain in place until Moscow ceases its aggression and guarantees compensation for the damages caused to Ukraine (Kyiv claimed $300 billion).

The most important thing mentioned in the new proposition is that, in case the security guarantees are adopted, they won’t preclude Ukraine’s accession to NATO.

Quote"Ukraine’s aspiration to join NATO and benefit from its mutual defense arrangements is safeguarded in its Constitution. This aspiration is the sovereign decision of Ukraine. In the interim period, Ukraine needs iron-clad security guarantees. These will come predominantly — though not exclusively — from NATO countries," the draft states.

Furthermore, in the event of a new Russian attack on Ukraine, EU countries would be required to adopt at least the full set of sanctions existing on September 1, 2022. However, this would be hard to achieve since sanctions have to be agreed upon by all the EU countries, while not all of them will be signatories to the compact (in particular, Budapest might impede the process).

Security guarantees for Ukraine: what has changed since spring 2022

By far, the Kyiv Security Compact is only a conceptual draft. These are the main differences that have appeared since the idea of the new security agreement was brought up for discussion in spring 2022:

  • The list of guarantor states doesn’t include China, let alone Russia, and is almost limited to NATO countries, save for Australia, which can also take part (although Andrii Yermak supposed that China could join later, Rasmussen spoke strongly against it).
  • There are no specific requirements as to the quantity of weapons or air defense for Ukraine, as such commitments are to be detailed in bilateral agreements with each of the signatories.
  • The security agreement doesn’t imply Ukraine’s pledge not to join NATO but, quite the opposite, rather prepares it for accession while at the same time protecting it from the aggressor.
  • The compact wouldn’t be a single common treaty like a collective security agreement but will turn into a series of bilateral agreements, which makes it more likely to be adopted.

Why the Kyiv Compact is better than the Budapest Memorandum

Although the framework agreement was called "Compact" instead of "Memorandum", in fact, it remains a declaratory document.

Nevertheless, it has the following advantages compared with the ineffectual Budapest Memorandum:

  • Decisions are to be made outside the UN Security Council, which means Russia won’t be able to veto them.
  • It is proposed to set clear deadlines for such decisions in the agreements (for example, within 24 hours or 72 hours of the invasion).
  • The signatories are obliged to supply Ukraine with the necessary equipment and weapons for defense.
  • The declarative nature of the main document is balanced with bilateral, multilateral, and sectoral agreements supplementary to it.
  • The Compact and the underlying tree of agreements will remain in force even after Ukraine joins NATO.
  • The Compact implies mechanisms that are not provided for in the NATO security guarantees, including the commitment to impose sanctions on Russia.
  • The Compact provides for helping Ukraine to build a defense industry capable of producing weapons for Kyiv to defend against Russia, as well as helping the AFU to re-equip.

It’s also worth noting that the new security agreement can be concluded in a time of war, while it’s almost politically impossible to join NATO under these circumstances (without changing the conditions of such accession).

However, one of the strange points in the Compact is that it only provides for the protection of Ukraine against Russia. According to Rasmussen, there are no other real threats. Meanwhile, they can arise over time, which once again proves that the security guarantees are no substitute for Ukraine’s accession to NATO.

Security guarantees for Ukraine scared Russia

In Russia, Kyiv’s propositions on security guarantees for Ukraine have already been met with discontent. Thus, former prime minister and president Dmitriy Medvedev called them a preface to the Third World War.

At the same time, he asserted that nobody would give any guarantees to the "Ukrainian Nazi" since it would be the same as applying Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty to Ukraine.

Quote"The same sh*t, but from another perspective. That’s why they’re scared," the Russian politician resented.

According to Medvedev, NATO is waging a hybrid war with Russia.

Quote"If these dimwits continue to ferociously pump the most dangerous types of weapons into the Kyiv regime, the military campaign will sooner or later go to a different level. It will lose visible boundaries and potential predictability of actions of parties to the conflict," he threatens.

Medvedev added, quoting the lines from the Book of Revelation about fire, smoke, and brimstone, that "everything will burst into flames" then. Earlier, he had already threatened the world with nuclear weapons.

For his part, Vladimir Putin’s speaker, Dmitriy Peskov, said that Ukraine’s aspirations to join NATO are a threat to Russia.

Rasmussen, for his part, believes that the adoption of such security guarantees for Kyiv would show Russia the futility of its war.

Quote"Adopting these recommendations would send a strong signal to Vladimir Putin. It would show that our commitment to Ukraine will not falter, that his war is futile,’ said he, as cited by The Guardian.

Presently, the concept of the agreement will be promoted among the partners by Minister of Foreign Affairs Dmytro Kuleba, Speaker of the Verkhovna Rada Ruslan Stefanchuk, and Rasmussen himself, who will travel across Europe and try to persuade the potential guarantors of the mutual benefit of an agreement with Kyiv.

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