- Written by James Landell and Oliver Slough
- BBC News, Vilnius and London
The G7 members are expected to ratify a long-term security arrangement with Ukraine at a NATO summit on Wednesday.
It will include defense equipment, training and intelligence sharing.
British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said the deal would send a “strong signal” to Russian President Putin.
This comes after Ukrainian President Zelensky criticized NATO’s reluctance to give Kiev a time frame to join the alliance.
Sunak said Kiev’s allies were stepping up their “formal arrangements for the long-term protection of Ukraine”.
“We can never see a repeat of what happened in Ukraine and this announcement reaffirms our commitment to ensuring that it is not left vulnerable to the kind of brutality that Russia has inflicted on it again,” he said.
He added that support for “Kiev’s path to NATO membership,” as well as “formal, multilateral and bilateral arrangements” by NATO members will send a clear message to the Russian president and “restore peace to Europe.”
No 10 said the UK played a leading role in the agreement, which includes G7 partners Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the US. On Wednesday, more details are expected.
US President Joe Biden earlier proposed a model for Ukraine similar to his country’s agreement with Israel. Under this agreement, Washington committed to providing $3.8 billion in military aid annually over a decade.
But unlike NATO membership – this does not include a provision to assist the target country at the time of the attack.
The G7 announcement comes after NATO said Ukraine could join the military alliance “when allies agree and conditions are met” – a delay Zelensky called “ridiculous”.
Kiev accepts that it cannot join NATO when it is at war with Russia but wants to join as soon as possible after the fighting ends.
“NATO will give Ukraine security – Ukraine will make the alliance stronger,” Zelensky told crowds in the Lithuanian capital on Tuesday.
He also presented a battle flag from the ruined city of Bakhmut – the site of the longest and perhaps bloodiest battle of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Zelensky had previously tweeted that “uncertainty is weakness,” and said the lack of an agreed timeframe meant his country’s eventual membership could become a bargaining chip.
NATO may not have said when and how Ukraine could join the alliance, but diplomats emphasized that they have laid out a clear path to membership, with the cumbersome application process significantly shortened.
They said they recognized that the Ukrainian military was becoming increasingly “interoperable” and more “politically integrated” with NATO forces, and promised to continue to support reforms in Ukraine’s democracy and security sector.
Diplomats also highlighted the creation of a new NATO-Ukraine Council, which will meet on Wednesday for the first time, which will give Kiev the right to invite meetings of the entire alliance.
But the decision not to give any meaning to the timetable is still seen as a setback for Ukraine.
Some member states fear that Ukraine’s semi-automatic membership could give Russia an incentive to escalate and prolong the war.
The focus is now on the long-term security guarantees that NATO members will entrust to Ukraine as an alternative to early membership.
In the past, Western security pledges have failed to deter two Russian invasions. NATO allies hope that the third round will be strong and clear enough to convince the Kremlin that further aggression would be too costly.
The Vilnius summit began a day after Turkey dropped its opposition to Sweden joining the military alliance.
Turkey had previously spent months blocking Sweden’s application, accusing it of hosting Kurdish militants. The country will now become the 32nd member of the alliance after Finland – which borders Russia, which joined in April.
Both countries announced their intention to join NATO after Russia invaded Ukraine.
A series of military packages for Ukraine were also announced at the summit on Tuesday.
An 11-nation coalition will begin training Ukrainian pilots to fly US-made F-16 fighter jets at a center to be set up in Romania in August, officials said.
In May, the United States gave its Western allies the go-ahead to supply advanced aircraft to Ukraine, including the long-awaited F-16 — a significant upgrade to the Soviet-era planes it currently uses.
Ukraine has repeatedly pressured its Western allies to provide aircraft to help in its recently launched counter-offensive aimed at recapturing territory captured by Russia.
But experts say it will take time to train Ukrainian pilots to fly and operate Western planes.
In addition to the G7 security agreement, the UK has announced plans to deliver more than 70 combat and logistics vehicles to Ukraine, with the aim of strengthening its offensive counter operation.
Meanwhile, Russia launched a wave of kamikaze drone attacks on Kiev and its region for the second day in a row on Tuesday night, the Ukrainian military said.
Preliminary information said there were no immediate reports of casualties or major damage.
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