Ukraine Wants Security Guarantees from the West Paving Its Way to NATO – Proposal Details

Tuesday, 13 September 2022 — , European Pravda

On September 13, the Office of the President of Ukraine presented the concept of security guarantees for Ukraine. It was developed by international advisers headed by former NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen.

The document is better than all previous ones on this matter. It does not contain proposals that were most unacceptable to Western partners. In particular, China was removed from the list of potential guarantors of Ukraine. Rasmussen insists on the inadmissibility of its role as a guarantor. However, the proposal still contains controversial points.

Kyiv offers a multi-level security system from several multilateral and bilateral treaties. The main document was named the Kyiv Security Compact. The project will be presented to the guarantor states and finalized in cooperation with them. The Zelensky administration aims to sign it by the end of 2022. It is not unrealistic. This structure of guarantees can be provided to Ukraine even in times of war.

At the same time, Ukraine abandoned unrealistic hopes of obtaining guarantees "stronger than NATO," returning to the goal of joining the Alliance. The purpose of the Security Compact is to provide temporary security guarantees for Ukraine until its accession to the Alliance. But certain positions of the agreement will remain in force even after the accession.

Briefly on ​​security guarantees

Statements that Ukraine, when the war ends, should receive security guarantees from the West to avoid a new attack by Russia rang out in official Kyiv in March.

Ukraine presented it to Russia at the spring negotiation rounds in Belarus and Istanbul. However, this initiative was criticized by experts, and not everyone in power believed in its effectiveness, EuroPravda sources said. Western partners, including the United States, were also skeptical.

In April, when the world learned about the war crimes of the Russian Federation with signs of genocide after the liberation of the north Kyiv region, support for negotiations with Russia slowly faded away.

However, the idea of ​​safety guarantees was still there but changed based on previous criticism.

On July 1, a special group on international security guarantees for Ukraine, co-chaired by Yermak and Rasmussen, started its work and developed the ​​Kyiv Security Compact.

Unlike the ideas voiced in the spring, China will not be among the guarantor states. All the guarantor states are NATO members, with Australia as the only exception.

The list of guarantors can be supplemented with other states: the USA, the UK, Canada, Poland, Italy, Germany, France, Australia, and Turkey, as well as the countries of Northern Europe and the Baltic, Central, and Eastern Europe.

It is interesting that Andrii Yermak, answering the EP's question, assumed that China would join the document later, but Anders Fogh Rasmussen ruled out such a possibility. It seems that the president's office did not understand that it was impossible to create a security alliance that would include the United States and China. 

This is a framework agreement. The Compact does not include specific obligations of the guarantor states (such as "the number of aircraft that country X will supply if Ukraine is attacked"). Each guarantor will add their specifics later.

The crucial difference between the Compact and previous initiatives is that it does not contradict Ukraine's course of joining NATO. On the contrary, this is a certain synergy between these processes.

Like the Budapest Memorandum, but different

The name Kyiv Security Compact may surprise you. In international law, "compacts" usually refer to significant multilateral framework agreements that are not legally binding, do not undergo the ratification procedure, etc. Compacts are usually ambitious political declarations within the framework of the UN. For example, the climate UN Global Compact or the Global Compact for Migration.

The Kyiv Compact is a framework document with some of these features. Rasmussen on Tuesday avoided a direct answer to the question of whether it will undergo ratification. Later he admitted that it was essentially a memorandum, a declarative document.

"We moved away from the name 'Memorandum' to avoid the negative impact of the Budapest Memorandum," explained the former NATO Secretary General to EP.

The Budapest Memorandum is a 1994 political agreement under which Ukraine gave up its Soviet strategic nuclear weapons. Nuclear powers, including Russia, promised not to attack it. Russia destroyed the Memorandum in 2014. The Memorandum did not contain any mechanism to resist the aggressor. 

Rasmussen's group found a legal way to make their document more effective.

Published legal explanations say that the "compact" is offset by other bilateral and multilateral documents that will form a complex ecosystem of security guarantees.

The Kyiv Security Compact should be supplemented by bilateral agreements with the guarantor states – the USA, the UK, etc., which will be ratified and contain specific obligations to support Ukraine and supply it with weapons, intelligence data, etc., in the event of another attack by Russia.

"There will also be sectoral agreements. For example, there may be a separate agreement on security in the Black Sea. We envisage a separate agreement to defend the sky, which will ensure the supply of air defense systems," Yermak added.

This approach removes the key problem - the different readiness of various partner states to assist in a new attack on Ukraine.

All decisions are proposed to be adopted, bypassing the UN Security Council. They should write down clear deadlines for decision-making (for example, no more than 24 hours in case of Ukraine's notification about an attack). "The main difference by the compact is that the guarantor states undertake to supply Ukraine with what it needs for defence, including weapons," Rasmussen said.

NATO with additions

Analysis of the Kyiv Compact shows the document does not threaten Ukraine's goal of joining NATO.

"This is definitely not an alternative to Ukraine's course for NATO membership, 100%. The Compact is needed for the time when Ukraine is not a NATO member," Andrii Yermak confirmed at a briefing in Kyiv.

Rasmussen added that even when Ukraine joins NATO, the Kyiv Security Compact will remain in force, as it contains norms absent among NATO mechanisms.

For example, the guarantors will impose sanctions on Russia in the event of new aggression - NATO does not impose sanctions. Also, as expected in the draft, the guarantor states that Ukraine's victory in the war will help it build military-industrial complex enterprises and provide financial and material aid for the re-equipment of the Armed Forces.

"Therefore, NATO membership and the "compact" will operate simultaneously," Rasmussen assured.

There is another connection between the security agreement and NATO membership.

The Alliance has already done it. When Finland and Sweden decided to give up their "neutrality" and apply for NATO membership in May, it caused many discussions. Then British Prime Minister Boris Johnson signed agreements on temporary security guarantees with Sweden and Finland before they joined NATO.

London's bold and unconventional move removed the threat that Russia would attack them before Article 5 was in force.

Kyiv wants to use this experience and expects the guarantees to help Ukraine on its way to NATO.

What's next?

So far, the "Kyiv Security Compact" text does not exist, only its concept, which partners are currently studying.

Andrii Yermak expects to sign the framework document before the end of the year. But real guarantees will be in bilateral agreements, which is more complicated because it requires ratification in parliaments.

Unlike joining NATO, which is politically impossible during the hot war phase, the security agreement can be signed now without unsolvable political problems. 

Some norms of the presented concept will definitely have to be adjusted.

For example, Kyiv sees the guarantor automatically renew sanctions in the event of a new attack by Russia as of September 2022. But Germany or France cannot make such an individual commitment because they impose sanctions at the EU level by consensus.

Another dubious provision: the Compact guarantees Ukraine protection only in the event of an attack by Russia. The Budapest Memorandum, signed in 1994, when few envisioned a full-scale war with Russia, should have taught that it was a short-sight approach. No one knows whether the Russian Federation will collapse into several states in a few years. In this case, it may turn out that Ukraine's eastern aggressive neighbor already has a different name.

Therefore, Kyiv should be ready to amend the document. But the most important thing is whether the US backs ​​the Security Compact.

Without this, it will be almost impossible to convince many other NATO members, such as France, Italy, and Germany.

Sergiy Sydorenko,
"European Pravda" editor

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