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Wednesday 29 November 2023 Dublin: 1°C
Alamy Stock Photo Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy speaks at an event with G7 leaders to announce a Joint Declaration of Support for Ukraine during the NATO Summit, in Vilnius, Lithuania.

Zelenskyy hails 'security victory' as G7 nations pledge long-term support for Ukraine

It comes after Nato leaders agreed that Ukraine could join the alliance once certain conditions are met.

LAST UPDATE | Jul 12th 2023, 10:25 PM

UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT VOLODYMYR Zelenskyy has welcomed a commitment by G7 nations to support Ukraine for as long it takes to defeat Russia, insisting it was a step on the road to Kyiv eventually joining Nato.

“We will not waver,” US President Joe Biden said in a speech in Vilnius aimed at showing resolve to Russia’s President Vladimir Putin after meeting Zelenskyy at a Nato summit.

“Putin still doubts our staying power. He’s still making a bad bet that the conviction and the unity among the United States and our allies and partners will break down.”

Zelenskyy insisted that the promises from the Western leaders amounted to a “significant security victory” that he could take home to Kyiv.

But he did not disguise the fact that he would have preferred the 31-member Atlantic alliance to have agreed a firm timetable for Ukraine to join its ranks once the 16-month old Russian invasion has been defeated and peace restored.

“The best guarantee for Ukraine is to be in Nato,” Zelenskyy said, expressing confidence that once the war is over Ukraine would be welcomed, but warning that the G7 commitments should be seen “not instead of Nato, but as security guarantees on our way to integration.”

On Tuesday, the Nato leaders agreed that Ukraine could join the alliance once certain conditions are met, and US and German officials in Vilnius made it clear that these would include Kyiv carrying out reforms to protect democracy and the rule of law.

“No country is exempt from them,” Germany’s Chancellor Olaf Scholz told reporters referring to the reforms.

This could frustrate Zelenskyy, who insisted Ukraine’s understanding was that the tests that Kyiv must still pass were simply “security conditions”, that peace must be restored and the Russian aggression ended.


“We understand that Ukraine cannot become a member of Nato while the war is ongoing. But then it will be for our common strength when Ukraine joins the alliance,” he tweeted.

Russia ‘fragile’?

The G7 plan provides a framework under which individual nations will agree bilateral deals with Kyiv detailing the weapons they will give and response they will make if Russia ups the ante, a message to Putin that he cannot keep the war grinding on hoping that international support falters.

Biden, who opposed granting Kyiv an immediate invitation timetable, insisted the G7 commitments showed that world powers would be by Ukraine’s side while it fights off Russia and establishes the conditions of membership.

“We’re going to help them build a strong capable defence across land, air and sea,” Biden said, at a ceremony with Zelenskyy and the leaders of the other G7 powers — Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Japan — to unveil the framework document on their security promises.

Biden saluted Zelenskyy’s courage as an example to the whole world, “not only you but your people — your sons, your daughters, your husbands, your wives, your friends: you’re incredible.”

In their statement, the G7 powers embraced the “strategic objective of a free, independent, democratic, and sovereign Ukraine, within its internationally recognised borders, capable of defending itself and deterring future aggression.

“We will stand with Ukraine as it defends itself against Russian aggression, for as long as it takes,” they said.

To prevent Russia starting another war when peace comes, the G7 vowed swift military assistance for Kyiv and to punish Moscow if there were to be another invasion.

us-president-joe-biden-speaks-at-an-event-with-g7-leaders-next-to-ukrainian-president-volodymyr-zelensky-to-announce-a-joint-declaration-of-support-for-ukraine-during-the-nato-summit-in-vilnius-lithu Alamy Stock Photo US President Joe Biden speaks at an event with G7 leaders next to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to announce a Joint Declaration of Support for Ukraine during the Nato summit in Vilnius, Lithuania. Alamy Stock Photo

Zelenskyy thanked them, but stressed that the document should be an “instrument of integration” leading one day to full Nato membership.

Several more countries have already signed up to the principles of the G7 document, including Spain, the Netherlands, Portugal, Iceland, Norway, Denmark, Poland and the Czech Republic, according to Spain’s prime minister, Pedro Sanchez.

France’s President Emmanuel Macron said this international solidarity showed that Ukraine enjoys long-term backing while Russia, recently beset by a brief revolt by the Wagner mercenary group, was “militarily and politically fragile” and showing “its first signs of division”.

Despite Nato’s failure to offer Ukraine a clear timetable for membership, the Kremlin was sufficiently angered by the G7 guarantees to issue a bleak warning that the step “will make Europe much more dangerous for years and years”.

Nato’s Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg stressed the importance of the progress he said Ukraine had made at the two-day summit, held under tight security on Nato’s eastern flank, 16 months after Russia’s all-out invasion of Ukraine.

He noted that Zelenskyy had joined Nato leaders at an inaugural meeting of the Ukraine-Nato Council, and said several allies were boosting bilateral assistance, such as France with a pledge of long-range missiles and the Netherlands leading a coalition to train fighter pilots.


“Today, we meet as equals, I look forward to the day we meet as allies,” Stoltenberg said.

Nato allies from eastern and northern Europe, themselves wary of Russian attack, have been most supportive of Kyiv’s membership bid, but alliance leader the United States and European economic powerhouse Germany have been more cautious.

Zelenskyy also had head-to-head meetings with several more leaders including British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, who expressed sympathy for his disappointment.

“Both agreed the arrangements will not be a substitute for Nato membership and looked forward to building on the new security framework as soon as possible,” Sunak’s Downing Street office said.

Sunak earlier shut down comments by the UK defence secretary after Ben Wallace suggested Ukraine should show “gratitude” for the military support it has been given.

The Prime Minister said Zelensky had “repeatedly expressed gratitude” for what the UK had done for Kyiv since Russia’s invasion broke out more than 500 days ago.

Wallace, in comments to reporters at the Nato summit, suggested Zelenskyy needed to be mindful about keeping “doubting politicians” in the US on-side, particularly with a presidential election coming up next year.

He said some allies providing defensive aid to Kyiv “want to see gratitude”.

But Sunak, in a push back against his Cabinet minister, said the Ukrainian people were “incredibly grateful for the support we have shown”.

Speaking at a press briefing after the two day summit in the Lithuanian capital, Sunak said: “President Zelenskyy has expressed his gratitude for what we have done on a number of occasions, not least in his incredibly moving address that he made to Parliament earlier this year and he has done so again to me, as he has done countless times when I have met him.

“So I know that he and his people are incredibly grateful for the support we have shown, the welcome that we have provided to many Ukrainian families, but also the leadership we have shown throughout this conflict.”

Sunak stressed that the Ukrainian people were “paying a terrible price” during the invasion and that he understood Mr Zelenskyy’s “desire to do everything he can to protect his people”.

Speaking at a later press conference, Zelenskyy said through a translator: “I believe that we were always grateful to United Kingdom.

“I don’t know what he (Wallace) meant and how else we should be grateful.

“Maybe the minister wants something special, but I think that we have a wonderful relations.”

© AFP 2023, with additional reporting from Press Association

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