Biden, Zelenskyy ink 10-year 'historic' US-Ukraine security deal

US President Joe Biden and his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelenskyy have signed a landmark 10-year security deal between Washington and Kiev. (Photo/Reuters)

US President Joe Biden and his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelenskyy have signed a landmark 10-year security deal between Washington and Kiev, which the Ukrainian leader called a "historic day" in the fight against Russia.

The deal, signed on Thursday, will see the United States provide Ukraine with a range of military aid and training over the next decade, while Zelenskyy said it would act as a bridge to his country finally winning prized membership of the NATO alliance.

Signed shortly after a G7 summit agreed on a separate deal to loan Ukraine $50 billion based on frozen Russian funds, it comes as the White House tries to lock in support for Kiev with an election battle with Donald Trump looming.

"Today is a truly historic day," Zelenskyy said at a joint press conference with Biden after they signed the security agreement at a luxury resort near the G7 summit site in southern Italy.

"Our goal is to strengthen Ukraine's credible defense and deterrence capabilities for the long term. A lasting peace for Ukraine must be underwritten by Ukraine's own ability to defend itself now and to deter future aggression any time in the future," said Biden.

"The United States is going to help ensure that Ukraine can do both – not by sending American troops to fight in Ukraine, but by providing weapons and ammunition, expanding intelligence sharing, continuing to train brave Ukrainian troops at bases in Europe and the United States, enhancing interoperability between our militaries in line with NATO standards..." he said.

Biden added they had taken "major steps at the G7 that collectively show [Russian President Vladimir] Putin he cannot wait us out."

The agreement says that the United States and Ukraine must consult within 24 hours "at the highest levels" after any future armed attack by Russia.

It also pledges to build up Ukraine's military, cooperate on training and work to build up Ukraine's domestic arms industry.

"Our security agreement is a bridge to Ukraine's membership in NATO," Zelenskyy told the press conference.

The United States has previously said Ukraine should have a path to membership but says that is impossible while it is still at war with Russia, as under NATO's mutual defence treaty, its Western allies would have to go to war with Russia.

'Into the future'

Zelenskyy meanwhile called for more Patriot air defence missiles to protect Ukraine against Russia's campaign of missile attacks.

Biden said five countries had already pledged to give Patriots to Ukraine, and said they would have to wait for the United States to replenish them until Ukraine's needs were fully met.

Zelenskyy also said that Chinese leader Xi Jinping had promised not to send Russia weapons to use against Ukraine — though Biden said Beijing was already contributing to Moscow's war effort by giving economic and industrial support.

While the Ukraine accord aims to commit future administrations to also support Ukraine, Trump could in theory end the agreement if he wins a second term in November.

But US officials insisted it would still build lasting support for Ukraine.

"Today, the United States is sending a powerful signal of our strong support for Ukraine now and into the future," said a US statement accompanying the security agreement.

Japan signed a similar security pact with Ukraine at the G7 summit.

Kiev has now signed at least 15 similar deals in the past year, with its major Western backers outlining multi-year commitments to fund and enhance Ukraine's defence and military.

$50 billion loan deal

Separately in Italy, the Group of Seven rich nations reached a US-backed deal for a new $50-billion loan for Ukraine using profits from frozen Russian assets.

Summit host Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni announced the "political agreement" after the first day of the Puglia talks, saying it was a hard-fought but "fundamental" step.

The EU agreed earlier this year to help Kiev by using the profits from the interest on Russian central bank assets frozen by Western allies — the majority of them held in the bloc.

The G7 and the EU have frozen around $325 billion of Russian assets, much of it frozen by Euroclear, an international deposit organisation based in Belgium.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz hailed the loan agreement as a "historic step", and a "clear signal to the Russian president that he cannot simply sit this matter out".

"The basis has been created for Ukraine to be in a position to procure everything it needs... in the near future, in terms of weapons but also in terms of investment in reconstruction or in energy infrastructure," he said.


Source: TRT