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Germany comments on potential security guarantees for Kiev

Security guarantees for Ukraine will be inferior to those afforded to NATO members, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said on Sunday. In an interview with ARD radio, Scholz said Berlin has been discussing the issue of security guarantees with its “close friends,” and the process is ongoing.

It is clear that it will not be the same as for a member of NATO,” he stressed, referring to the principle of collective security, which applies within the alliance but not to third parties. However, he said the issue of providing some security guarantees for Kiev is “now being carefully prepared by diplomats” for when the current conflict ends.

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In the interim, Scholz said the West would maintain pressure on Russia through the use of sanctions.

Ukraine had earlier signaled that it would give up its NATO ambitions and agree to remain neutral as demanded by Russia in exchange for security guarantees from the West.

READ MORE: Ukraine sets out how security guarantees could work

On July 1, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky announced the establishment of a special group on international security guarantees for Kiev. The group is headed by former NATO secretary general Anders Fogh Rasmussen, and Zelensky has said it includes “influential figures from various democratic countries of the world – Australia, USA, Sweden, Great Britain, Germany, Poland, France, Italy and, of course, Ukraine.” 

The main task of the group is to develop a format of security guarantees for our country, which will work long-term and realistically, so that there are no future aggressions,” the Ukrainian leader said.

In late April, Zelensky set out his vision for how security guarantees would work. He said guarantors would need to make decisions within hours rather than days or weeks, as any delay in providing emergency military assistance would cost lives. 

The president explained that he is not insisting on NATO-style provisions. He also emphasized that nobody knows how NATO would act if one of its members were attacked, as such a situation has never arisen and “God forbid that it arises.”

While a number of countries have indicated willingness to provide such guarantees, no one has officially offered them so far.

Moscow, which has long viewed NATO’s expansion eastwards as a direct threat to its security interests, cited the possible accession of Ukraine as one of the key reasons for its decision to launch a military attack in February. 

Russia sent troops into Ukraine on February 24, citing Kiev’s failure to implement the Minsk agreements, designed to give the regions of Donetsk and Lugansk special status within the Ukrainian state. The protocols, brokered by Germany and France, were first signed in 2014. Former Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko has since admitted that Kiev’s main goal was to use the ceasefire to buy time and “create powerful armed forces.”

In February 2022, the Kremlin recognized the Donbass republics as independent states and demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join any Western military bloc. Kiev insists the Russian offensive was completely unprovoked.

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