Biden and Zelensky strike long-awaited security deal: ‘We’re going to stand with Ukraine’

President Joe Biden on Thursday announced three new measures that he said will create “a stronger foundation” for Ukraine in its bloody war against Russia: a sweeping bilateral security agreement between the United States and Ukraine, a $50 billion loan for Kyiv backed by the Group of Seven countries, and new sanctions against Russian individuals and entities.

Speaking alongside Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on the sidelines of the G7 summit in Puglia, Italy, Biden said those “three major steps” would show Russian President Vladimir Putin that he cannot wait out or divide the western alliance, which will remain on Kyiv’s side “until they prevail in this war.”

“Two and a half years ago, Putin unleashed a brutal war in Ukraine, and it’s been a horrifying ordeal for the Ukrainian people. It’s also been a test for the world — would we stand with Ukraine? Would we stand for sovereignty, freedom and against tyranny? The United States, the G7, and countries around the world have consistently answered the question by saying ‘yes, we will,” Biden said.

“We will say it again: Yes, again and again and again, we’re going to stand with Ukraine,” he added.

The bilateral security pact builds on the declaration issued by Nato and EU leaders at last year’s Vilnius summit, in which they said Ukraine’s future is as a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization when Ukraine meets certain conditions “emphasizing the importance of its deepening integration into the Euro-Atlantic community; and underlining the centrality of reform to support and strengthen Ukraine’s defense, prosperity, recovery, rule of law, and democracy.”

It states that both the US and Ukraine will “work together to help deter and confront any future aggression against the territorial integrity” of either country, and lays out “security-related commitments” that are “intended to support Ukraine’s efforts to win today’s war and deter future Russian military aggression.”

The text of the deal also states that it will be US policy going forward to “assist Ukraine in maintaining a credible defense and deterrence capability.”

U.S. President Joe Biden, right, shakes hands with Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy as they sign a bilateral security agreement during the sidelines of the G7 summit at Savelletri, Italy, Thursday, June 13, 2024. (AP)
U.S. President Joe Biden, right, shakes hands with Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy as they sign a bilateral security agreement during the sidelines of the G7 summit at Savelletri, Italy, Thursday, June 13, 2024. (AP)

The agreement between Biden and Zelensky — and the G7 announcement on a loan from seized Russian assets — come amid increasing uncertainty as to whether the coalition of allies assembled by Biden in the wake of Russia’s February 2022 invasion will hold in the face of far-right extremist challengers in this year’s elections.

America’s efforts to aid Kyiv have come in fits and starts as Republicans in Congress have increasingly refused to back more financial support for Ukraine at the behest of former president Donald Trump, who could return to the White House if he bests Biden in the November presidential election.

The Group of Seven agreement on providing Ukraine with funds backed by seized Russian assets is in part an effort to head off the danger of a resurgent far-right government — in the US or elsewhere — withdrawing or cutting off aid.

Biden also told reporters that there’s “a lot more money coming” Ukraine’s way as a result of the supplemental defense appropriations bill which he’d signed earlier this year, as well as missile defense batteries, F-16 fighter jets, and other advanced western weapons system.

“We have 50 nations that have signed up beyond Nato and the G7, and so we’re going to stay as long as it takes,” he said.

“We know what Ukraine is capable of doing, when given the material to defend themselves. And that’s exactly what they’re doing now.”