Selangor Journal
US President Joe Biden shakes hands with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy in Paris, France, on June 7, 2024. — Picture by REUTERS

Biden, Zelenskiy ink 10-year defence agreement, inch closer towards Nato

BORGO EGNAZIA, Italy, June 14 — US President Joe Biden and Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy signed a 10-year bilateral security agreement on Thursday aimed at bolstering Ukraine’s defence against Russian invaders and getting Ukraine closer to North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (Nato) membership.

The deal, signed on the sidelines of the G7 summit in Italy, aims to commit future US administrations to support Ukraine, even if former President Donald Trump wins November’s election, officials said. 

“Our goal is to strengthen Ukraine’s credible defence and deterrence capabilities for the long term,” Biden said at a joint news conference with Zelenskiy.

He said the G7’s message to Russian President Vladimir Putin is: “You cannot wait us out. You cannot divide us.” 

The group of rich nations also agreed to a US$50 billion loan for Ukraine backed by profits from frozen Russian assets.

The US-Ukraine security deal is a framework for a long-term effort to help develop Ukraine’s outdated armed forces and serve as a step towards Ukraine’s eventual Nato membership, according to the text.

The Ukraine president called the agreement historic, saying it is a bridge toward his country’s eventual Nato membership. 

“This is an agreement on security and thus on the protection of human life,” he said.

Zelenskiy has long sought Nato membership but the allies have stopped short of taking that step. The Western alliance regards any attack launched on one of its 32 members as an attack on all under its Article Five clause.

In the event of an armed attack or threat of such against Ukraine, top US and Ukrainian officials will meet within 24 hours to consult on a response and determine what additional defence needs are required for Ukraine, the agreement says.

Under the agreement, the United States restates its support for Ukraine’s defence of its sovereignty and territorial integrity, amid a renewed push by Russia on Ukraine’s eastern front.

It also outlines plans to develop Ukraine’s own defence industry and expand its military.

Ukraine needs a “significant” military force and sustained investments in its defence industrial base consistent with Nato standards, the text says.

It will allow the two countries to share intelligence, hold training and military education programmes and combined military and exercises.

With Trump leading Biden in many election polls, the future of the agreement remains unclear.

Trump has expressed skepticism of Ukraine’s continued fight, saying at one point that he would end the conflict in his first day in office. Trump has also pushed for Europe to take on more of the burden of supporting Kyiv.

Zelenskiy, asked about what could happen for his country if there is a change in leadership in the US and other allied nations, said people stood with Ukraine because they have shared values and empathise with the Ukrainian people.

He said he does not think that popular support will change.

“If the people are with us, any leader will be with us in this struggle for freedom,” he said.

Biden recently shifted his policy against allowing Ukraine to use American weapons for attacks inside Russia, permitting Kyiv to fire long-range US missiles against Russian targets near the embattled Ukrainian city of Kharkiv.

At the news conference, Biden made clear he would not permit Ukraine to expand its use of US missiles inside Russia.

“It makes a lot of sense for Ukraine to be able to take out or combat what is going across that border. In terms of long range weapons… we have not changed our position on that,” Biden said.

— Reuters

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