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US to sign ‘Israel style’ security deal with Ukraine

US President Joe Biden and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky are due to sign a 10-year security agreement on the sidelines of the G7 in Italy on Thursday that is designed to shore up international support for Ukraine and provide certainty for American investors, experts believe.

The deal also aims to commit future US administrations to support Ukraine, even if former president Donald Trump wins November’s presidential election, officials said.

US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said the agreement will commit Washington to supply Kyiv with military assistance and help develop Ukraine’s armed forces. The US will also continue to train Ukraine’s military, deepen cooperation on defence industry production and share more intelligence with Kyiv, while talks will continue about unlocking the profits from Russia’s frozen assets – money the US and EU hope can be used rebuild Ukraine after the war ends.

But experts say the pledge is merely an “executive agreement,” meaning the deal falls short of legally binding for any future presidents.

It is modelled on the style of security arrangement the US has with Israel, according to the New York Times, however the “Israel model” is also based on a congressional agreement to supply billions in aid. The Ukraine deal will require the president to work with congress on funding.

Huseyn Aliyev, a lecturer in Central & East European Studies at the University of Glasgow told i that Trump’s unpredictability make it difficult to see how it could unfold.

“If Trump is elected [he] can easily overturn this deal. The terms of the deal are ambiguous at the moment as it is not clear what sort of assistance the US pledges to provide beyond the current levels.

“It is difficult to predict how Trump might deal with the Ukraine issue as with most other foreign policy matters, but his previous remarks on the need to make peace with Russia are taken very cautiously in Ukraine.”

US President Joe Biden (R) shakes hands with Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky (L) during the International commemorative ceremony at Omaha Beach marking the 80th anniversary of the World War II "D-Day" Allied landings in Normandy, in Saint-Laurent-sur-Mer, in northwestern France, on June 6, 2024. The D-Day ceremonies on June 6 this year mark the 80th anniversary since the launch of 'Operation Overlord', a vast military operation by Allied forces in Normandy, which turned the tide of World War II, eventually leading to the liberation of occupied France and the end of the war against Nazi Germany. (Photo by Ludovic MARIN / AFP) (Photo by LUDOVIC MARIN/AFP via Getty Images)
The two leaders last met just days ago in in France marking the 80th anniversary of the World War II “D-Day” Allied landings in Normandy (PHOTO: Ludovic MARIN / AFP)

With Trump narrowly leading Biden in the polls, questions hang over the former Republican president’s commitment to Ukraine. Trump has previously called on European nations to contribute more to Ukraine’s defence, while he has also claimed he would negotiate a quick end to the Russia-Ukraine war and has previously called Putin a “genius” and his decision to invade Ukraine “pretty savvy“. However, he also eventually toned down his opposition to the congressional passage of aid for Ukraine this spring.

Matthew Ford, a Lecturer in International Relations at the University of Sussex told i: “The security deal is an executive agreement and allowed Biden to avoid having to go through Congress and pass a law through the legislature.

“Considering Republicans sought to delay aid to Ukraine, there’s no reason to believe Trump will continue the same levels of support as Biden and risk losing support from Republicans.”

“If Biden really wanted to make stick he would try and push it through the senate, but as we have seen with the aid package, this would have been very challenging – so the agreement is more about symbolism for the Ukrainian population and to shore up support for Zelensky on the international stage.

The agreement comes after months of negotiations that started in August last year, but were stalled as Congress was delayed in passing its $64bn (£54bn) aid for Ukraine bill due to opposition from Republicans.

Meanwhile, an additional 16 countries have committed to making similar agreements. The US will join 15 other countries that have signed bilateral agreements with Ukraine, including Britain, France, Germany and Italy.

Such bilateral agreements have included a provision to hold high-level consultations with Kyiv within 24 hours if Ukraine is attacked again in the future, and the US deal is also expected to include this provision.

But the pact does not commit Washington to supply troops to defend Ukraine if it is attacked, and the agreement does not make a specific monetary pledge to support Ukraine’s defence.

It comes as G7 nations were also set to announce a deal to turn Russia’s frozen assets into a revenue stream for Ukraine to finance reconstruction and defence. The Ukrainian government has also said it will auction some 20 state-owned companies to help plug a $5bn (£3.9bn) hole in its state finances as the war with Russia rumbles on.

The privatisation push has created opportunities for American capital in Ukraine, including the potential to buy Hotel Ukraine, a vast shopping mall in Kyiv, and several mining and chemical companies such as United Mining and Chemical Company, one of the world’s largest producers of titanium.

Mr Ford said: “While the deal is vague, it’s a signal to industry that in the long-term their interests are safe and they should continue investing in Ukraine. They are trying to create the conditions of certainty, regardless of whether Trump can gets elected. These same financial commitments may create a lobby that wants to maintain support for Ukraine – to protect American investment in Ukraine – which could, in turn, make Trump more committed to Ukraine’s security.”

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