Speech by Head of the Office of the President Andriy Yermak at the first meeting of the Group on International Security Guarantees for Ukraine
Historical parallels are never exact and should never be taken literally. They are not about repeating history. They are about preventing its recurrence. But not for everyone. Europe has been saying for years: “Never again”, Russia has been saying for years: “We can repeat.” And repeated. Time after time and step by step, it followed the path of historical reconstruction. Created a collective image of the imperial past in modern times. We see the result today in Ukraine. And it depends on us whether it will be intermediate or final. Whether we are getting closer to the Ukrainian Somme, or a new division of Europe is ahead.
We know that in the world even now, after Bucha and Mariupol, there are such figures who think that Ukraine can be sacrificed for the sake of global peace and the prevention of a global catastrophe. We know that there are those who believe that it is worth giving Russia what it wants and restoring business as usual. But it will no longer be as usual. Russia has shown its complete inability to negotiate. Agreements must be broken – this is one of the fundamental principles of Russian realpolitik. The second principle is that the right to these violations belongs exclusively to Russia. This means that no agreement will be final, and the Kremlin will demand more and more. It will blackmail neighbors, partners, the world with new and new crises.
Therefore, we need a comprehensive and reliable solution. We must stop Russia, fully restore the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine, and deprive Russia of the possibility of continuing the game of historical reconstruction in the future. We commend the fact that NATO is aware of what it is dealing with. The characterization of Russia as the “most significant and direct threat” to the security of the Alliance is very accurate. However, this threat must be neutralized right now. Because it will be much more difficult to do without Ukraine or with a weak Ukraine. If at all real.
Our group faces a huge and, I am not afraid of this word, unprecedented task – to develop appropriate specific recommendations.
Ukraine has an extremely negative experience of security assurances in the framework of the Budapest Memorandum. We categorically refuse to repeat it. There will be no Budapest-2. We need effective guarantees to deter future aggression from Russia – military, political, diplomatic, institutional, financial, etc. These guarantees must be included in legally binding and duly ratified international agreements with guarantor states.
In general terms, I will tell you about our vision of the planes covered by the guarantees.
First of all, I will note: we are aware that no commitments from third parties can replace Ukraine’s own powerful defense potential. Therefore, we consider it necessary to ensure Ukraine’s ability to exercise the right to self-defense.
This block of guarantees will include, in particular, the further provision of modern conventional weapons and military equipment without any restrictions or politically motivated obstacles.
The rapid restoration of Ukraine’s defense potential is one of the important factors in preventing the recurrence of aggression. Therefore, we will need annual financial assistance for the development of the defense sector. In addition, we count on deepening cooperation in the fields of information, cyber and maritime security, as well as the exchange and analysis of intelligence information. In particular, for the timely detection of signs of preparation of armed aggression against Ukraine.
The next block is actions to deter new aggression. The operational supply to Ukraine of everything necessary to ensure the comprehensive realization of the right to self-defense, including weapons, equipment, financial and other assistance, is the cornerstone of this block. It is necessary to build a system of bilateral and/or multilateral agreements, which will provide for detailed mechanisms of guarantors’ actions in case of aggression against Ukraine.
We also consider a permanent mechanism for assessing security threats and challenges and mutual information about them, as well as mechanisms for urgent bilateral or multilateral consultations, to be necessary elements of this block.
The last block of guarantees should be the sanctions policy. It should become an effective tool for preventing the recurrence of aggression. The currently implemented packages of sanctions and restrictive measures should be in effect not only until the complete withdrawal of Russian troops from Ukraine. Their effect should continue until Russia fulfills two conditions. First, it must provide adequate assurances and guarantees of non-repetition of aggression against Ukraine. Second, it should provide full compensation for the damage caused to our state and citizens. An effective mechanism for implementing preventive sanctions should also be envisaged in the future – in the event of a threat of aggression. At the same time, guarantees for the urgent implementation of an agreed and synchronous international regime of sanctions are necessary if aggression does occur.
This is important not only for Ukraine and other neighbors of Russia. The bloody war in Syria is a vivid example of the fact that any nation on our planet can suffer from the aggressor.
When practice confirms the effectiveness of guarantees for Ukraine, they can be extended to other countries. The idea of President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is that security guarantees for Ukraine in the future will become the basis of a new global security system. The U24 format (United 24) is a kind of rescue service for countries. A club of responsible states that provide specific assistance within 24 hours – military-technical, economic, political, humanitarian. Which promptly and without delay implement sanctions and involve other restrictive mechanisms against the aggressor. Such a format will be very helpful against the background of UN paralysis and may become the basis for its reform.