What does Ukraine mean by asking for ‘security guarantees’?

With peace talks between Russia and Ukraine sporadic and inconclusive, a seemingly complicated but significant diplomatic solution has circulated in Europe’s power corridors: Provide Ukraine with security guarantees so that an agreement with Moscow can be reached.

Eager to end Russia’s invasion, which has killed thousands of soldiers and civilians and caused a humanitarian catastrophe, Ukrainian officials this week said during talks in Istanbul that their country had willing to declare permanent neutrality, giving up hope of joining NATO and meeting. Moscow’s main demand. Ukrainian negotiators have also said they are open to discussing Russia’s territorial claims – but only on the condition of security guarantees from a group of other countries.

Ukrainian officials envision an agreement in which a diverse group of countries – potentially including NATO members such as the United States, Britain, Turkey, France and Germany – would commit, should Ukraine be attacked public, to protect it. To some security analysts, however, that sounds a lot like NATO’s collective defense doctrine.

On Thursday, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey said the country could in principle help ensure Ukraine’s security. Other countries may follow.

But Ukraine’s request, which surprised many in Washington and prompted some US diplomats to race with alarm, has raised questions about how such an agreement would work and whether it would work. really suits the Kremlin’s taste or not.

Ukraine’s senior negotiator, Mykhailo Podolyak, told Turkish broadcaster NTV on Thursday that security guarantees could help end the war. He said so-called guarantors would have a legal obligation under international law to provide weapons, military personnel or financial help should a conflict involving Ukraine break out. He said preliminary talks were underway with the United States, Britain, France, Germany and Turkey, and confirmed that those countries had shown a willingness to accept the terms.

“This is what this treaty means: A country that wants to attack will know that Ukraine is not alone, and that other countries are with Ukraine with their troops and weapons,” he said.

But such an agreement would face many hurdles, especially the reluctance of Western powers to trap them in armed conflict with Russia. It is not clear if any of the countries cited by Podolyak have signed the pledge or will do so. Podolyak’s assertions about their readiness to defend Ukraine against Russia in the future are also unconfirmed.

Above all, the prospect of outside countries committing to the defense of Ukraine echoes one of the main concerns that Russia raised prior to its invasion of Ukraine. The Kremlin has been vocal about the idea of ​​Ukraine, a former Soviet republic, joining NATO. Its claim for security guarantees evokes the alliance’s collective defense doctrine: that “an armed attack” against any ally in Europe or North America “would be considered a attack against all”.

Ian Bond, a former British diplomat in Russia and head of foreign policy at the Center for European Reform, says the problem with Ukraine’s neutral stance is that so far no country has wanted to guarantee Ukraine’s neutrality. said they would agree to do so. It would be like NATO membership with collective defense by a different name – highly unlikely, he said.

Steven Erlanger in Brussels and Safak Timur in Istanbul contributed reporting

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