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Ukraine's President and British PM have differing views on UK security guarantees

Friday, 12 January 2024, 18:40
Ukraine's President and British PM have differing views on UK security guarantees
Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Rishi Sunak. Photo: Office of the president of Ukraine

Following the signing of a security agreement between Ukraine and the United Kingdom, the leaders of the two countries appeared to hold differing views on whether it could be called an agreement on security guarantees.

Source: European Pravda

Details: President Volodymyr Zelenskyy used the words "security guarantees" or "guarantees" when describing the agreement at a press conference in Kyiv following its signing, saying, for example, that "[Ukraine has received – ed.] security guarantees from a prominent global power, the UK".

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UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, however, chose a different term when he spoke about the signed document, emphasising several times that the agreement concerns "security assurances".

Nevertheless, Sunak suddenly changed the wording at one point in his speech, stating that the signed agreement "expands security guarantees from the UK for Ukraine to unprecedented levels". However, shortly afterwards, when European Pravda asked him to clarify whether it is possible to speak of security guarantees as Ukraine insists, Sunak corrected himself and emphasised that these are security assurances as part of the promise that Ukraine received from the G7 states at the NATO summit.

It is crucial to remember that the language used has significant political repercussions. The phrase "security assurances" is problematic for Ukraine because it was used in the title of the notorious Budapest Memorandum. For this reason, Ukraine is adamant about adopting "security guarantees", something that its international partners are not prepared for.

Notably, the text of the agreement released on Friday contains neither of those terms. Instead, the document refers to "security cooperation" and "security assistance".

Sunak and Zelenskyy signed the security agreement between the UK and Ukraine, which will be valid until Ukraine joins NATO, during Sunak’s visit to Kyiv on 12 January.

A separate part of the agreement covers actions in the event of a future armed attack by Russia.

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