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FT: EU prepares security commitments for Ukraine, faces opposition

by Martin Fornusek June 29, 2023 7:20 PM 2 min read
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky (C) and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen (L) pose for a photo with Ukrainian and European Union flags after a meeting in Kyiv on Feb. 2, 2023. (Photo by Ukrainian Presidency/Handout/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
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A France-led initiative in the EU is preparing long-term security commitments for Kyiv to help safeguard Ukraine from future Russian aggression, the Financial Times (FT) wrote on June 29.

The measures will include financing further weapon supplies through the European Peace Facility, expansion of training programs for Ukrainian soldiers, and potentially EU training missions on the territory of Ukraine.

These commitments are designed to reassure Kyiv of enduring Western support, the FT reported, as consensus on inviting Ukraine to NATO in the near future appears uncertain.

The France-devised proposal is also reportedly meant to show the EU's willingness to invest in Ukraine's security rather than being sidelined by NATO and the U.S.

The initiative encountered opposition from several "neutral" EU members, such as Austria, Ireland, Cyprus, and Malta, the FT wrote.

"For us as neutral states, it is clear that we cannot give such security guarantees. Austria, Ireland, Malta, and Cyprus have made it clear that they have objections," Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer told journalists on June 29 in Brussels.

"We're supporting (Ukraine) financially and politically. We're happy to make those ongoing security commitments, but what we can't do as a country is engage in a commitment around mutual defense because that would breach our policy of neutrality," Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar commented on the initiative.

The FT also added that the "slow" progress of Ukraine's counteroffensive doused the hopes of some European leaders for a quick victory. At the same time, the recent Wagner rebellion has raised questions about Russia's internal stability and about Kyiv's options for exploiting the situation, the news outlet commented.

Ukraine's ultimate security goal is achieving full NATO membership once the war against Russia ends. Kyiv hopes to receive a decisive signal during the upcoming Vilnius NATO summit in July.

According to media reports, there is so far no consensus on Ukraine's NATO membership. Some allies voiced support for a clear membership path, proposing a simplified accession process for Ukraine.

Others remain hesitant about the membership question. France and Germany favor "stronger, concrete, very clear security guarantees" over discussions on Ukraine's accession. Paris even indicated it is ready to provide such guarantees itself, comparing it to an "Israeli-style" security agreement.

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