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FT: US close to signing bilateral security agreement with Ukraine as relations fray

by Nate Ostiller and The Kyiv Independent news desk May 30, 2024 6:45 PM 2 min read
U.S. President Joe Biden (L) walks next to President Volodymyr Zelensky past a religious mural at the St. Michael's Golden-Domed Cathedral in Kyiv on Feb. 20, 2023. (Dimitar Dilkoff/AFP via Getty Images)
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The U.S. will soon finalize a bilateral security agreement with Ukraine, which may be aimed at helping mend the current "tense" relations between the two countries, the Financial Times (FT) reported on May 30, citing sources.

Over 30 countries have joined the Group of Seven (G7) Joint Declaration of Support for Ukraine so far. The U.K., Germany, France, Denmark, Italy, Canada, the Netherlands, Finland, Latvia, Belgium, and Portugal have already signed bilateral agreements with Kyiv.

Andriy Yermak, head of Ukraine's Presidential Office, said earlier in May that "tangible progress" had been made on a similar agreement with the U.S.

The news comes as unnamed Ukrainian officials told the FT that relations with the U.S. had reached their lowest point since the beginning of the full-scale war.

"We are farther apart than ever since the war started. It is very, very tense," one unnamed Ukrainian official said.

Other officials pointed to discontent coming specifically from President Volodymyr Zelensky, who has reportedly become "emotional and nervous" over the battlefield situation and what he sees as a growing U.S. willingness to hold negotiations with Russia.

Zelensky "thinks (the administration of President Joe Biden) want(s) the war to go away before the (U.S.) election," the official said.

The tension broke out into the open after reports surfaced that Biden would not attend the upcoming global peace summit in Switzerland in June.

"I believe that the peace summit needs President Biden, and other leaders need President Biden because they will look at the U.S.'s reaction," Zelensky said.

"(Biden's) absence would only be met by an applause by (Russian President Vladimir) Putin, a personal, standing applause by Putin," he added.

At the same time, U.S. officials told the FT that Ukraine had scheduled the summit despite being informed that Biden would not be able to attend. A yet unannounced senior official will attend in his place.

U.S. officials have also expressed concern about Ukrainian attacks on Russian territory and oil facilities, such as the recent drone strike on an early-warning Voronezh M radar system in the Russian city of Orsk, Orenburg Oblast, on May 26.

An unnamed source told the Washington Post that the radar systems are "sensitive locations because Russia could perceive that its strategic deterrent capabilities are being targeted, which could undermine Russia's ability to maintain nuclear deterrence against the U.S."

There has been a growing call among Ukraine's allies in recent weeks to end the restriction on Western-supplied weapons being used to strike Russian territory, but Biden has yet to officially endorse the move.

NATO summit declaration to contain ‘new language’ on Ukraine’s membership, US ambassador says
NATO’s July summit in Washington will contain new language regarding Ukraine’s membership in the alliance, U.S. Ambassador to NATO Julianne Smith said during a briefing in Prague on May 29, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) reported.
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