Stability for Ukraine

Zelensky Hopes for Security Guarantees

October 13, 2022
Gerhard Gnauck
5 min read
Photo credit: Dmytro Larin /
External security and the reconstruction of the country are two sides of the same coin for Ukraine. Now there are two concrete plans for this.

Volodymyr Zelensky, the president of Ukraine, knows how to communicate in emergencies. When Russia started the war at the end of February, Zelensky responded four days later by officially applying to the EU for his country's accession. With success: in June, Berlin and Paris spoke out in favor of classifying the country as a candidate for accession, and shortly thereafter an EU summit sealed the decision.

And when President Vladimir Putin declared four regions of Ukraine to be part of Russia on September 30, Zelensky responded the same day with an application to join NATO in an “accelerated procedure.”

Both accessions had already been enshrined as constitutional goals by Zelensky’s predecessor Petro Poroshenko. The realization—especially of EU accession—will take a long time, probably years. In the meantime, interim solutions are needed. Ten days ago, Zelensky immediately came up with one such solution: the Kyiv Security Compact (KSC).

In 1994, Russia Guaranteed Ukrainian Sovereignty

As early as March, when Kyiv and Moscow were still negotiating a ceasefire, Ukraine had demanded “security guarantees” for the future. Reactions to this were reserved—even among states that were already supplying Ukraine with weapons. So now a “package” as a concrete offer for talks: A working group around former NATO secretary general Anders Fogh Rasmussen and Andrii Yermak, Zelensky's chancellery chief, has prepared a paper with proposals in September.

The authors begin by recalling the 1994 Budapest Memorandum: at that time, the United States, the United Kingdom, and a Russia that was weaker and more peaceful than it is today had declared that they would respect Ukraine's sovereignty and borders. This memorandum was in return for Kyiv handing over its share of Soviet nuclear missiles to Russia. At the latest with the occupation and annexation of Crimea in 2014, it became clear how “seriously” Russia's President Putin took the commitment from the time of his predecessor Boris Yeltsin.

Core Group of Allies

Such a thing could happen again, the paper says, “if Ukraine does not receive unique and effective security guarantees - embedded in a subsequent peace process.” In order to exercise the “natural right of individual or collective self-defense” enshrined in Article 51 of the UN Charter, such guarantees would have to enable the country to protect itself in the sense of deterrence or, if necessary, counter-defense.

To this end, the KSC would have to “mobilize the necessary political, financial, military, and diplomatic resources for Ukraine's self-defense.” In doing so, the authors hope for a “joint document on strategic partnership signed by the guarantor states and Ukraine,” as well as binding bilateral agreements by Ukraine with individual guarantor states.

In addition to reconstruction efforts, such guarantees would be crucial for millions of Ukrainians considering returning to their homeland. Such guarantees, quickly adopted, could be a “message of resolve and unity” and “lay the foundation for a new security order in Europe” in the 21st century.

Specifically, the KSC is intended to create a “core group of allies,” which the authors see as the United States, the United Kingdom, Poland, Italy, Germany, France, Turkey, and other countries, including small ones. An even broader group of states, including Japan and South Korea, should also provide further, non-military guarantees. Mentioned are “automatic sanctions ... in the event of further Russian aggression,” including the seizure of Russian state and private assets. Other agreements, such as military-technical (air defense) or regional (Black Sea security), could be added.

Non-repayable Grants

All told, Ukraine needs “decades of” support through investment in its defense industry, arms deliveries, and training assistance. The KSC paper goes far in clearly assuming “Ukraine in its recognized borders” (that is, including Crimea and Donbas). It is, on the other hand, cautious: there is no mention of a presence of combat troops of the allies in the country itself. Yet experts, such as Angela Merkel's former chief foreign policy adviser, Christoph Heusgen, have already floated the idea.

Security and reconstruction: A paper presented last week at the Warsaw Security Forum is devoted to the second topic. With its concept, the German Marshall Fund of the United States rightly evokes the “spirit of the Marshall Plan” of 1947, which Washington launched at that time for the reconstruction of Europe.

The key points: Above all, Ukraine must receive non-repayable grants so as not to overwhelm the country with debt; because “Brussels has neither the necessary political nor the financial clout,” the G-7 group must take the lead; urgent humanitarian “emergency” aid must come as the first stage before reconstruction proper. Foreign investment could be facilitated by internationally backed “war insurance.” And the price tag? A good €100 billion would be needed and, stretched over the years, would be bearable for donor states, plus frozen Russian state funds of an even larger amount. The Ukraine reconstruction conference scheduled for October 25 in Berlin should take this draft as the basis for its work.

Designing Ukraine’s Recovery in the Spirit of the Marshall Plan

The Marshall Plan is a source of inspiration and a fountain of hope for Ukraine’s recovery; evoking it is a marker of ambition. Yet, it cannot be a template for the international aspiration to help rebuild the country. A plan for Ukraine needs to take a 21st century shape.

Today, many countries are needed to help one.

Copyright: © Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. All rights reserved. Provided by Frankfurter Allgemeine Archiv.

This is a translation of an article published by Frankurter Allgemeine on October 11, 2022 under the headline “Selenskyj hofft auf Sicherheitsgarantien.”