- Written by James Landell and Oliver Slough
- BBC News, Vilnius and London
The G7 members are expected to ratify a wide-ranging security pact with Ukraine at a NATO summit on Wednesday.
But they stopped short of providing a time frame for Kiev to join the security alliance, to the wrath of President Volodymyr Zelensky.
The security arrangements will include defense equipment, training and intelligence sharing.
British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said it would send a “strong signal” to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The security arrangement with Ukraine comes after its President Volodymyr Zelensky railed against NATO’s reluctance to provide a timeframe for how to join the alliance.
G7 leaders will sign the declaration in Vilnius on Wednesday on the sidelines of the second day of the NATO Defense Summit.
Speaking ahead of a meeting with President Zelensky on Wednesday, 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 declaration 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.
British officials said the UK played a leading role in the agreement, which includes the G7 partners Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States. 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 the agreement, Washington committed to providing $3.8 billion (£2.9 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.
Some member states fear that Ukraine’s semi-automatic membership could give Russia an incentive to escalate and prolong the war.
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.
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.
. “Proud zombie lover. Evil pop culture buff. Amateur thinker. Total food practitioner. Tv evangelist.”