US and Germany reveal attitudes to Ukrainian security guarantees
Germany is “100%” prepared to provide some form of security guarantees to Ukraine, while the US government is still “in constant discussion” with Kiev, according to officials from both countries.
The comments came, on Wednesday, after leaked proposals from Russian-Ukrainian peace talks appeared to suggest an arrangement where Moscow and various Western capitals would agree to promise Kiev protection if it agreed to de-militarise.
“If guarantees are needed, then Germany will be there and give guarantees,” Minister of Foreign Affairs Annalena Baerbock told state broadcaster ARD on Wednesday, saying Kiev could rely on her country’s support. Baerbock said Berlin was “in full solidarity, by 100%” with Ukraine.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz also told Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Wednesday that Berlin had a “general willingness” to give security guarantees — but a government spokesperson did not specify whether this would include military assistance.
Kiev has consistently called on Western allies to clarify their position on Ukraine’s eventual admission into NATO, or at least to provide it with alternative arrangements. Ukraine joining the US-led military bloc has long been a stated “red line” for Russia.
Moscow launched a military assault on its neighbor, last month, and the most recent round of peace negotiations, held in Turkey on Tuesday, revealed that Ukraine was prepared to put aside its NATO ambitions, but only in exchange for detailed security guarantees from third party countries.
Baerbock emphasized on Wednesday that, at this point, the negotiations between Ukraine and Russia had not advanced enough and thus Kiev and Moscow’s understanding of the proposals could be entirely different.
Meanwhile, Washington is “in constant discussion with the Ukrainians” about ways it can remain “sovereign and secure,” White House Director of Communications Kate Bedingfield said on Wednesday. Bedingfield stated, however, there was nothing “specific” she could share “at this time.”
Bedingfield also reiterated the White House position against implementing a no-fly-zone over Ukraine, which would risk direct confrontation with Russia.
The round of negotiations between Ukraine and Russia in Istanbul on Tuesday was seen by many as a sign that the sides were creeping closer to an agreement.
Top negotiators said Ukraine was prepared to put aside its ambition to join NATO, host foreign military bases and troops, or seek nuclear weapons. In return, Kiev wants Russia not to object to it one day joining the European Union – and has requested NATO-like guarantees of its security from other nations.
Moscow attacked the neighboring state in late February, following Ukraine’s failure to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements signed in 2014, and Russia’s eventual recognition of the Donbass republics in Donetsk and Lugansk. The German and French brokered Minsk Protocol was designed to regularize the status of the regions within the Ukrainian state.
Russia has now demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join NATO. Kiev insists the Russian offensive was completely unprovoked and has denied claims it was planning to retake the Donbass by force.