US and Ukraine expected to sign long-term security agreement at G7

The US and Ukraine are expected to sign a bilateral security pact on the sidelines of the G7 in Italy on Thursday, multiple people familiar with the matter told CNN, in a deal that lays out a path for the US’ long-term security relationship with Kyiv but that could also be undone by future US administrations.

The agreement follows months of negotiations between the US and Ukraine and is expected to commit the US for 10 years to continued training of Ukraine’s armed forces, more cooperation in the production of weapons and military equipment, the continued provision of military assistance and greater intelligence sharing.

But the pledge is expected to be an “executive agreement,” the sources said, making it less formal than a treaty and not necessarily binding for any future presidents.

Former President Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, has not explicitly said whether he would continue support for Ukraine if he wins in November, saying only that he would negotiate a quick end to the Russia-Ukraine war without explaining how. He has also pushed European countries to contribute more to their own defense and said he’d “encourage” Russia “to do whatever the hell they want” if Europe didn’t increase its defense funding.

The US-Ukraine agreement does not make a specific monetary pledge to support Ukraine’s defense, two of the sources familiar with the agreement said. An annex in the agreement will lay out how the Biden administration plans to work with Congress on the implementation of the security commitments, one of the sources said, specifically the long-term funding that will be needed to support Ukraine’s defense.

National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby said on Tuesday that the US’ commitment to Ukraine “will continue to be right up front and clear” at the G7, and that the US “will take bold steps to show Mr. Putin that time is not on his side and that he cannot outlast us, as we support Ukraine fight for freedom.”

President Joe Biden and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky will meet during the summit, Kirby said, and the US will announce steps to unlock Russia’s frozen assets for use in Ukraine’s reconstruction after the war ends.

The pledge the US and Ukraine are expected to sign will be similar to the 14 other bilateral agreements Ukraine has already reached with other allies, including the UK, France and Germany. The US-Ukraine agreement will be the 15th such deal signed, one of the sources said, and 17 other countries have committed to negotiating similar bilateral security pacts with Ukraine.

As part of the deal, the US will promise to hold consultations with Ukraine immediately following a future attack by Russia to determine next steps, said the people familiar with the agreement’s contours. The UK, France and Germany also included provisions calling for such talks within 24 hours of a Russian attack.

But the bilateral agreement with the US, like with Ukraine’s other allies, will not include a mutual defense clause, which would commit them to defending Ukraine militarily in the event of another attack. While Zelensky has welcomed the bilateral commitments, he has said repeatedly that they are not a substitute for full NATO membership, which does have a mutual defense provision known as Article V.

The agreement comes as the US-Ukrainian relationship has begun to recover after faltering late last year and into this year amid a congressional fight over additional US funding for Ukraine – something Biden personally apologized to Zelensky for during a meeting in Paris last week.

Biden also recently agreed to allow Ukraine to use US-provided weapons to strike into Russia directly, a major shift that Ukraine had been asking for months as Russia pummeled Kharkiv with missiles from just across the border.

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