Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has welcomed fresh commitments of weapons and ammunition to fight against Russian attacks even as he expressed disappointment over the lack of a clear path for his country to join NATO.
"The Ukrainian delegation is bringing home a significant security victory for Ukraine, for our country, for our people, for our children," he said on Wednesday while flanked by US President Joe Biden and other leaders from the Group of Seven most powerful democratic nations.
A joint declaration issued by the G7 lays the groundwork for each nation to negotiate agreements to help Ukraine bolster its military over the long term. Zelenskyy described the initiative as a bridge toward eventual NATO membership and a deterrent against Russia.
"Our support will last long into the future," Biden said. "We're going to help Ukraine build a strong, capable defence."
The announcement came as NATO leaders launched a new forum for deepening ties with Ukraine, known as the NATO-Ukraine Council.
It's intended to serve as a permanent body where the alliance's 31 members and Ukraine can hold consultations and call for meetings in emergency situations.
The setting is part of NATO's effort to bring Ukraine as close as possible to the military alliance without actually joining it.
Russia slams G7 plan
The British foreign ministry said the G7 would "set out how allies will support Ukraine over the coming years to end the war and deter and respond to any future attack."
The ministry added that the framework marks the first time that this many countries have agreed to a "comprehensive long-term security arrangement of this kind with another country.”
British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said in a statement that supporting Ukraine "will send a strong signal to President Putin and return peace to Europe.”
Moscow reacted harshly to the G7 plan.
"We consider this extremely ill-judged and potentially very dangerous," Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told reporters. He added that "by providing security guarantees to Ukraine, they’re infringing on Russia's security."
Ukraine's NATO membership
On Tuesday, the leaders said in their communique summarising the summit's conclusions that Ukraine can join "when allies agree and conditions are met."
The ambiguous plan for Ukraine's future membership reflects the challenges of reaching a consensus among the alliance's current members while the conflict continues, and has frustrated Zelenskyy even as he expressed appreciation for military hardware being promised by G7 industrial nations.
"Today we meet as equals," NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said on Wednesday at a news conference with Zelenskyy. "I look forward to the day we meet as allies."
"The results of the summit are good, but if there were an invitation, that would be ideal," Zelenskyy said, through a translator. He added that joining NATO would be "a serious motivating factor for Ukrainian society" at it resists Russia.
Under Article 5 of the NATO charter, members are obligated to defend each other from attack, which could swiftly draw the US and other nations into direct fighting with Russia.