Ukraine’s allies should commit to legally binding large-scale weapons transfers and multi-decade investment in the country’s defences, according to a report that looked at alternatives to Kyiv’s long-term aspirations to join the Nato alliance.
The report was commissioned by the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, and co-authored by the former Nato secretary general, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, and Zelenskiy’s chief of staff, Andrey Yermak.
The purpose of the report was to provide a security structure for Ukraine that guarantees Russia does not seek to invade again, and is separate from calls by Zelenskiy for the west to step up arms supplies to drive home the sudden advance by Ukrainian troops.
Ukraine’s possible future membership in Nato was one of the issues that Russia claimed as justification for its February invasion.
The report, the subject of wide diplomatic consultations, does not propose that Nato countries collectively should be required to offer their troops in defence of Ukraine’s sovereignty, but says there should be no restriction on the military diplomatic and economic help provided by Nato member countries through bilateral agreements. The level of support could be scalable according to the level of threat and should apply to all of Ukraine’s internationally recognised borders.
The report argues the “strongest security guarantee for Ukraine lies in its capacity to defend itself against an aggressor … To do so, Ukraine needs the resources to maintain a significant defensive force capable of withstanding the Russian Federation’s armed forces and paramilitaries.
“This requires a multi-decade effort of sustained investment in Ukraine’s defence industrial base, scalable weapons transfers and intelligence support from allies, intensive training missions and joint exercises under the European Union and Nato flags”.
A core group of allied countries that will be brought together with Ukraine includes the US, UK, Canada, Poland, Italy, Germany, France, Australia, Turkey, and Nordic, Baltic, central and eastern European countries.
The military guarantees might provide commitments to Ukraine that amount to “a closed sky” through the provision of anti-aircraft and anti-missile defence equipment.
The guarantees, the report suggests, should not require Ukraine to limit the size or strength of its armed forces, or to adopt a position of neutrality, but it would require Ukraine to remain on a democratic path.
Critics of the report will question the enforceability of the proposed legal guarantees, the scale of financial support required, and the threat that such a powerful army might not only act in self-defence.
Ukrainian forces will be trained to Nato standard and at the scale needed to build a robust territorial defence force and reserve force, including a form of conscription for those civilians aged over 18. The training activities will be supported by an extensive exercise programme both on Ukrainian soil and with Ukrainian forces on EU or Nato territory.
Non-Nato countries such as South Korea might provide non-military guarantees such as a commitment to sanctions in the event of a further Russian attack. A legal framework should be developed that will allow authorities to seize the property of the aggressor, its sovereign funds and reserves, and the assets of its citizens and entities on the sanctions list.
Sanctions would not be lifted until Russia stops its aggression against Ukraine, guarantees it will not attack Ukraine in the future, and compensates Ukraine for the damages caused during the invasion.
Rasmussen said: “Once this war is over, we must ensure that Russia can never invade again. The best way to do that is by Ukraine having a significant military force capable of withstanding any future Russian attack. Building and maintaining such a force requires a multi-decade commitment from Ukraine’s allies.
“Adopting these recommendations would send a strong signal to Vladimir Putin. It would show that our commitment to Ukraine will not falter, that his war is futile”.