US, Ukraine ink 10-year defense agreement billed as NATO precursor

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US President Joe Biden and Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy signed a 10-year bilateral security agreement on Thursday aimed at bolstering Ukraine’s defense against Russian invaders.

The agreement, signed on the sidelines of the G7 summit in Italy, is meant to be a step towards Ukraine’s eventual NATO membership, according to the text of the deal.

“The parties recognize this agreement as supporting a bridge to Ukraine’s eventual membership in the NATO alliance,” the text says.

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Zelenskyy has long sought NATO membership but the allies have stopped short of taking that step. The Western alliance regards any attack launched on one of its 32 members as an attack on all under its Article Five clause.

In the event of an armed attack or threat of such against Ukraine, top US and Ukrainian officials will meet within 24 hours to consult on a response and determine what additional defense needs are required for Ukraine, the agreement says.

Under the agreement, the United States restates its support for Ukraine’s defense of its sovereignty and territorial integrity, amid a renewed push by Russia on Ukraine’s eastern front.

“To ensure Ukraine’s security, both sides recognize Ukraine needs a significant military force, robust capabilities, and sustained investments in its defense industrial base that are consistent with North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)standards,” the text says.

“The United States intends to provide long-term materiel, training and advising, sustainment, intelligence, security, defense industrial, institutional, and other support to develop Ukrainian security and defense forces that are capable of defending a sovereign, independent, democratic Ukraine and deterring future aggression,” it says.

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