Receive free War in Ukraine updates
We’ll send you a myFT Daily Digest email rounding up the latest War in Ukraine news every morning.
G7 countries have agreed a joint framework for providing long-term security guarantees to Ukraine aimed at turning it into a military fortress to repel Russian aggression, a pledge that president Volodymyr Zelenskyy said would help it on its journey to becoming a member of Nato.
The commitments will include supplies of “modern military equipment, across land, air, and sea domains”, training of Ukrainian forces, intelligence sharing and cyber defence assistance. In exchange, Kyiv would commit to reforms including of its judiciary and civilian control of the military.
The commitments come as Zelenskyy attends the summit of Nato leaders in Lithuania on Wednesday to drum up more support for his army as it battles Russia’s invasion.
“We understand that the best guarantee for Ukraine is to be in Nato. On our way to Nato, we would like the security guarantees and to have them permanently, so that they would make our relationship with [western] countries even more powerful,” Zelenskyy told reporters.
Non-G7 countries are also being encouraged to agree their own security commitments one-on-one with Ukraine.
“Today’s framework declaration and security guarantees will open up the possibility for strong bilateral commitments,” he added.
Zelenskyy’s remarks ahead of the official announcement marked a noticeably changed tone from the Ukrainian leader, who on Tuesday had lashed out at what he called an “absurd” decision by Nato allies not to offer Ukraine an invitation or a timeline to join the alliance.
Jens Stoltenberg, Nato’s secretary-general, welcomed Zelenskyy to the summit by saying: “Today we meet as equals. I look forward to the day when we meet as allies.
Stoltenberg, standing beside Zelenskyy at a press conference, called for “credible arrangements in place for Ukraine’s security so history does not repeat itself”.
“I therefore welcome that many allies will today commit to providing long-term security assistance to Ukraine,” he said.
Zelenskyy was attending the inaugural meeting of the Ukraine-Nato council on Wednesday with the leaders of all 31 Nato states plus Sweden, which is in the process of joining.
Western officials say the security commitments will help Ukraine to liberate territory occupied by Russian forces and to modernise the country’s military. They will also help to reassure Kyiv that support will continue regardless of political changes in western capitals.
Amanda Sloat, senior director for Europe in the US National Security Council, said they would “help Ukraine build a military that can defend itself and deter a future attack”.
The arrangements will provide Ukraine with more weapons and other assistance over the long term. They aim to formalise ad hoc announcements from western powers and assuage concerns from Ukraine and more hawkish Nato members, who want to see a concrete pathway for Kyiv to join the alliance.
The talks will focus on ensuring Ukraine has a capable military as well as help with pushing forward a reform agenda which the US and other powers say will be necessary to eventually admit Ukraine into Nato.
Ever since Moscow launched its full-scale invasion last year, Nato has pointedly refrained from giving military aid to Ukraine as an alliance, in order to avoid a direct conflict with Russia. Instead, it has left that decision to individual states.
A Nato statement released on Tuesday and first reported by the Financial Times pledged to “extend an invitation” to Ukraine to join the alliance when “allies agree and conditions are met”. Zelenskyy criticised the statement, which he said would encourage Russia to keep attacking Ukraine as it did not make Kyiv’s future status clear.
Ukraine’s three priorities were “new support packages for our army on the battlefield, an invitation to Nato . . . when the security situation allows it” and the security guarantees, Zelenskyy said.
Later, he said he had spoken to German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and got an agreement for “additional Patriot [missile defence] systems and missiles”.
“We substantially discussed further long-term defence co-operation between Ukraine and Germany, including the functioning of hubs for the repair of western equipment,” he added.
Under Wednesday’s joint declaration, the G7 powers will also expand training and military exercises and develop Ukraine’s industrial base, according to a British announcement of the programme.
The pledges are aimed at demonstrating the west’s long-term commitment to Ukraine, while Nato’s members remain divided on the country’s path to membership. But the security arrangements are unlikely to fully rectify disagreements on Ukraine’s future among Nato’s 31 members. After Turkey dropped its opposition to Sweden’s bid this week, Stockholm is expected to join soon.
The commitments will be expensive and require consultations between leaders and their respective parliaments. While western officials said the dialogue was meant to outlast election cycles in member countries, the plan will almost certainly be vulnerable to volatile politics.