Ukraine is asking the West for mandatory security guarantees to ensure its long-term sustainability, but its allies are not yet ready to say yes.
Details: Five European diplomats say that despite months of discussions on the issue, the Western alliance is still shifting on almost every aspect of responding to Ukraine’s request.
Quote: “Ukraine is the most experienced country in the world in hearing ‘no’ from NATO,” lamented Olha Stefanishyna, Deputy Prime Minister for European Integration.
“We need clarity,” she added, “that Ukraine’s NATO membership is inevitable and will not be some kind of bargain chip.”
Details: Kyiv’s supporters are thus trying to cope with an awkward reality: many do not really want to give Ukraine a specific timetable for joining NATO at this point. However, they also do not want to leave Ukrainians frustrated or vulnerable to another invasion in the future.
Consequently, a number of Western European leaders are increasingly insisting on security guarantees and offering more optimistic language about membership.
French President Emmanuel Macron, the sources said, supported “something between Israel-style security guarantees and fully-fledged [NATO] membership”. The “Israel-style” refers to the highly targeted military assistance the allies provided to Israel over the years.
UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak added his vague commitment that the allies “want to make sure that we put in place security arrangements for Ukraine for the long term”.
Yet current and former officials say there is no consensus on the guarantees, what they would include, or in what format they could be used.
However, officials say that when politicians now talk about “guarantees” and “assurances”, they are essentially talking about promises to continue providing weapons and military training rather than any specific promises to come to Ukraine’s defence.
“More often we hear of assurances, rather than guarantees. It all seems to come down to long-term provision of means to be able to defend themselves,” a senior diplomat from Central Europe said.
Promises of more weapons are not exactly what Ukraine is looking for.
Instead, Zelenskyy has been increasingly insistent – including during a personal meeting with European leaders in Moldova – on the unbreakable commitment that is a stepping stone to NATO membership.
Some officials believe that the debate over security guarantees distracts from the only guarantee they think really matters: possible NATO membership.
“Is any country seriously considering to provide genuine bilateral security guarantees to Ukraine? Only Article 5 guarantees matter,” said a diplomat from Eastern Europe.
According to this diplomat, long-term arms supplies are “not a security guarantee”.
Previously: Anders Fogh Rasmussen, Former NATO Secretary General, believes that individual NATO members may agree to the sending of their troops into Ukrainian territory within the discussion on future security guarantees for Ukraine.