G7 announces long-term security commitments to Ukraine

Document is first 'security umbrella' for Kyiv, says Zelenskyy

The G7 has said it will support the defence industrial base of Ukraine, led by President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. EPA
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The Group of Seven countries on Wednesday made their first long-term security commitments to Ukraine in a highly anticipated move expected to pave the way for further bilateral security guarantees with more nations.

In a joint document of support for Ukraine published on the second day of the Nato summit in Vilnius, the G7 countries said they had “specific, bilateral, long-term security commitments and arrangements” to offer Ukraine that would ensure “a sustainable force capable of defending Ukraine now and deterring Russian aggression in the future”.

President Joe Biden paid tribute to Ukraine's self defence and said the group would provide backing for as long as it takes.

“I think it's a powerful statement we are committed to Ukraine as it defends its freedom today and as it rebuilds for the future,” he said at the Vilnius meeting. “We're gonna be there as long as that takes.”

The G7 – the US, Japan, Germany, the UK, France, Canada and Italy – said Ukraine would gain with swift and sustained security assistance, modern military equipment across land, sea and air domains, and economic assistance, to impose economic and other costs on Russia. It invited other nations to join the process.

“To this end, we will work with Ukraine on an enhanced package of security commitments and arrangements in case of future aggression to enable Ukraine to defend its territory and sovereignty,” they said.

The statement said that the G7 countries will prioritise “air defence, artillery and long-range fires, armoured vehicles” as well as air combat capabilities and promote Ukrainian forces' “interoperability” with Euro-Atlantic partners.

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said the security guarantees were an important victory for his country. “We are co-ordinating with that G7 countries framework for security guarantees that shall be extended to our key partners through bilateral and multilateral agreements,” he said. “The Ukrainian delegation is bringing home a significant security victory.”

This support will come in parallel with supporting Ukraine’s defence industrial base, training Ukrainian soldiers, intelligence sharing and cyberdefence support.

The G7 also committed to support Ukraine in non-military ways, including by strengthening its economy and its energy security.

The nations also intend to provide technical and financial support to enable Ukraine to “continue to implement the effective reform agenda that will support the good governance necessary to advance towards its Euro-Atlantic aspirations”.

Ukraine had hoped that it would receive a formal invitation to join Nato at the Vilnius summit. Nato allies decided against the step at the summit, but indicated that the country would receive additional security guarantees.

The alliance’s communique published on Tuesday reflected such hesitation, stating that Ukraine would become a member “when Allies agree and conditions are met”.

Mr Zelenskyy, who publicly expressed his strong disappointment at the lack of an invitation on Tuesday, softened his stance the following day at a press conference shortly before the G7 statement was issued.

He hailed the guarantees offered by the G7, which he viewed as an essential step towards Ukraine’s eventual integration into Nato. He said that he understood that Ukraine could not be a full member of Nato as long as war raged on its territory.

Nato countries are bound by Article 5 of its treaty which says that an attack against one of its members is equivalent to an attack against all. This would mean that Nato would have to engage in war with Russia, should Kyiv become a member before the Ukraine war ends.

The G7 commitments are the first “security umbrella” that legally binds Ukraine to western countries, said Mr Zelenskyy. “Later on, Ukraine will have bilateral documents with every security guarantor for Ukraine, and that will cover all aspects we already have or are lacking now, like air defence.”

In exchange for the G7 security guarantees, Ukraine has committed to strengthening transparency and accountability measures, said Wednesday’s statement.

Ukraine will continue “implementation of the law enforcement, judiciary, anti-corruption, corporate governance, economic, security sector, and state management reforms.”

It will also advance “defence reforms and modernisation, including by strengthening democratic civilian control of the military and improving efficiency and transparency across Ukraine’s defence institutions and industry”.

Updated: July 12, 2023, 2:11 PM