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US and Ukraine sign a 10-year defence pact

23 Jun 2024

What is happening in Ukraine?

US President Joe Biden and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky agreed to a 10-year security agreement last week, which is intended to focus on aiding Ukraine’s ongoing defence against Russia and helping to progress their ambitions of NATO membership. This agreement was announced during a G7 summit taking place in Italy, where the group announced a programme of further economic support to Ukraine. 

The pact will see the US and Ukraine collaborate more closely on strengthening Ukraine’s defence capabilities, as well as supporting Ukraine’s long-term capability to continue fighting against Russia. This will see US support in areas such as air defence, cyber security, and its naval strength in the Black Sea. It will also see further intelligence sharing and military training with Ukraine, as well as a commitment to greater coordination between the two nations in the event of future Russian attacks. 

Notably, at the press conference for the agreement, Zelensky confirmed that with the support of the G7, Ukraine would be receiving five more Patriot air defence systems, nearly fulfilling the request he made for seven more, to protect their most important infrastructure. These US-made systems have helped provide cities such as Kyiv with protection from Russian missiles, however, other major cities such as Kharkiv do not have access to them, leading to severe damage to important civilian infrastructure, key to sectors such as energy.  This comes at an important time for Ukraine, as Russia has recently intensified their missile attacks on Ukrainian infrastructure. 

Alongside the pledge for military support from the US, the G7 announced a set of loans amounting to $50 billion to give financial aid to Ukraine. These will be funded using frozen Russian assets in G7 member states and will see each member giving their own loans to Ukraine, compared to the initial proposal which would have seen a singular G7 loan offered.

What is in it for you? 

For our readers in the US, Europe and Ukraine in particular, this new agreement is an important signal of the US’ renewed support for Ukraine during the ongoing conflict. These announcements come in the context of tense moments in the relationship between the US and Ukraine. For example, Biden chose to attend a fundraising event in Hollywood on the same weekend as a Ukrainian peace summit held in Switzerland, leading to criticism from Zelensky. These new agreements signal that the US is still committed to Ukraine and that the Biden Administration hopes this relationship can be sustained in the long term, given the scale of measures tied to the post-war reconstruction of Ukraine.

Therefore, while this renewed US commitment could deter further Russian aggression, this potentially gives Russia more to gain through attempting to influence the US election later this year. 

Furthermore, for readers in Ukraine, this support could be instrumental for long-term growth in the nation, and across Eastern Europe. The new Patriot air defence systems will help protect civilian communities and infrastructure in important cities such as Kharkiv, meanwhile ensuring the loans programme can be targeted to revive damaged infrastructure elsewhere across the country. Given Ukraine’s importance in global markets such as grain and energy, this could bring long-term benefits to the Eastern European and global economy as Ukraine begins to recover once the war ends. 

What happens next?

Biden confirmed that the US would “be with Ukraine until they prevail” in their ongoing war with Russia. The agreement also included a provision to work towards a “just and lasting peace” with “broad global support,” signalling that Ukrainian support for any peace agreement would be central. However, there are also terms in the agreement that allow for it to be terminated with only six months of notice, which could compromise the long-term sustainability of this agreement if former president Donald Trump, a vocal critic of the current US stance on Ukraine, were to win the presidential election in November. 

The deal aims to support “Ukraine’s eventual membership of NATO,” but ongoing negotiations are complex and fraught. The deal itself does include provisions for greater military integration and training with Ukraine when conditions allow for it, alongside Ukraine committing to the NATO doctrine and the rigorous military standards that all members sign up to. However, despite calls for it from Zelensky, there is currently no clear pathway to Ukrainian membership, and further Ukrainian partnership with NATO remains unclear, given that they have not received an invite to the next summit taking place in Washington in July. 

Lastly, the specifics of the loan programme are yet to be determined, so it may take months to implement if specific G7 members have certain demands. One main concern with it may be that using these assets for loans could permanently damage relations with future Russian governments, regardless of who leads these. While there appears to be no substantial opposition to the loan programme, the loans are expected to become available to Ukraine at the end of the year.

The Polis Team in London

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