Security guarantees for Ukraine: How realistic is it, what should they be like?

In the Euro-Atlantic region, the war was a fundamental shock to the current security and defense order. Military doctrines and assumptions that proved generally useful after the end of the Cold War no longer seem adequate. The post-war security order is being updated with varying degrees of energy throughout the Euro-Atlantic community, and it will continue to evolve as, for example, new technologies are combat-tested and adopted, and the lessons of defense doctrine, including the conduct of modern artillery combat, are learned. The arrival of new members will also inevitably change the dynamics and possibly the center of gravity of NATO.

Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba called on partner countries to decide what security guarantees they are ready to provide to Ukraine: “the world should be grateful to Ukraine for its security. Ukraine has given up nuclear weapons for the sake of World Peace. After that, we knocked on the doors of NATO, but they never opened. The security vacuum has caused Russian aggression.”

Recall that Ukraine wants to see 11 countries as security guarantors, in particular the United States, Great Britain, France, Turkey, Germany, China, Poland and Israel (if desired, other countries can join them). And getting commitments from the signatory countries is even tougher than Article 5.

The United States, France and other allies have deen discussing how to provide security guarantees to Ukraine during and after the war with Russia,
But are potential “guarantors” ready to give such guarantees as the Ukrainian side sees them? From what, at least, has already been stated earlier:

  • US Deputy Secretary of State Victoria Nuland:”Washington is ready to discuss this issue (without details)”;
  • French President Emmanuel Macron: “Paris is ready to contribute to the agreement on security guarantees for Ukraine(without details)”;
  • German Foreign Minister Annalena Berbok: “Germany will also participate and give guarantees(without details)”;
  • Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu: “Ankara is ready to become a guarantor, but will not accept Article 5 of NATO as a guarantee”;
    • British Prime Minister Boris Johnson:”I believe in agreeing on security guarantees for Ukraine, but they will not repeat Article 5 of NATO”;
  • Head of the International Policy Department of the Office of the president of Poland Jakub Kumoch: “Warsaw is ready to be a guarantor of Ukraine’s security (without details), but will not support the peace agreement with the surrender of Ukrainian territories.” Poland has signed a defense contract with Ukraine in the amount of 2.7 billion Polish zlotys (about 6 650 million) for the sale of Krab self-propelled howitzers to Ukraine. This was stated by Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, deputy prime minister and Minister of state assets Jacek Sasin and Minister of National Defense Mariusz Blaszczak during a joint press conference at the Guta Stalova Volya steel plant on Tuesday. “Right now we are signing one of the largest, if not the largest, export defense contracts in the last 30 years. This is the sale of weapons to Ukrainians, Ukraine,” Morawiecki said. He stressed that these weapons will be “very important” on the battlefield in eastern Ukraine.

As for Israel and China, negotiations are underway with these states.

“The possibility of creating a strategic alliance with the United States and the United Kingdom for a while is a good alternative to NATO” Director of military programs at the Razumkov Center Mykola Sungurovsky believes that the set of countries that Ukraine wants to see as guarantors of its security is not entirely logical. Because, in fact, together with security guarantees, we are talking about creating a new NATO. “A new NATO, which will include China? If we talk about a new union, then it should be a union of like-minded people, not competitors. This is, first of all,” the expert says. Secondly, he continues, it should be understood that China, which claims to be the “second violin” in the world, pursues its own interests. “Ukraine is far from the first place for him. In the first place-Russia as an instrument of pressure on the West. And Ukraine is a springboard. Their saying works here:”when Tigers fight, a smart monkey sits and watches how it ends.” So China is watching, and by pushing the Russian Federation to take more provocative actions towards the West, it is trying to become the No. 2 nuclear power and act on equal terms with the United States. Therefore, I would not expect any guarantees from China. And the fact that we need and need to establish normal relations with this country is true, and for a long time,” Mr. Sungurovsky emphasizes.

Third, the expert does not yet see queues from countries that would like to give Ukraine guarantees, including the military aspect: “many states, with the exception of the United States and Great Britain, have repeatedly said: “anything, but except participation in military operations.” That is, no one is going to enter into an armed conflict with the Russian Federation.”

Therefore, the expert believes that it would be advisable for Ukraine to limit the set of guarantor countries to the United States and Great Britain, a strategic alliance with which is a fairly good alternative to NATO, for a certain time.

“In this case, the advantage would be that decisions to help the victim country are made not according to all the bureaucratic canons of the alliance, but by one country. It also has its own bureaucratic procedures, but they work much more quickly than in the Union of 30 states, of which not everyone is happy about the possible severance of ties with Russia,” says Mr. Sungurovsky.

Ukraine has convincingly proved its case at the international level, fighting heroically, despite the overwhelming superiority of forces. This had a significant impact on the speed and scale of military support that the United States and other NATO members were willing to provide. These countries fought not so much for Ukraine, but together with it and through it. Thus, future security guarantors can expect that the beneficiary state will be able to resist in all areas in almost the same way. Moreover, the speech of President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky raised expectations regarding the quality of personal leadership, which will be required to receive material support and provide real guarantees.

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