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Far from amounting to de facto NATO membership with what Article 5 is popularly but inaccurately imagined by the public to entail, they’re just formalizations of the status quo for optimizing the way in which Western proxy wars are waged.
The newly inked “UK-Ukraine Agreement on Security Co-operation” is being presented as the first-ever official pact on so-called “security guarantees” for Ukraine in accordance with one of the demands put forth in Zelensky’s 10-point “peace formula”. The reality is altogether different, however, if only reads the document itself at the UK’s official public sector information website here. Upon doing so, it becomes clear that Ukraine’s hoped-for “security guarantees” aren’t all that they were hyped up to be.
While it’s true that this agreement covers a wide array of security-related spheres, it doesn’t entail any obligation for the UK to dispatch troops to Ukraine in the event that it comes under attack again for whatever reason, unlike what the public imagined that “security guarantees” would entail. Part VIII, Article 3 spells this out clearly enough, and this portion of the text will be shared in full below prior to being analyzed in the larger context of Ukraine’s quest for such “guarantees”:
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“The UK undertakes that, in those circumstances, and acting in accordance with its legal and constitutional requirements, it would: provide Ukraine with swift and sustained security assistance, modern military equipment across all domains as necessary, and economic assistance; impose economic and other costs on Russia; and consult with Ukraine on its needs as it exercises its right to self-defence enshrined in Article 51 of the UN Charter.”
All of this is already happening so the “security guarantees” that Ukraine just clinched simply amount to formalizing the status quo, exactly as France’s planned ones with that country are expected to do as well, and the same goes for whoever else follows London’s lead. In all likelihood, the over 50 countries that are providing some degree of support for Ukraine could reach their own pacts with it to formalize arms shipments, economic aid, sanctions, and diplomatic coordination in the event of another conflict.
While such cooperation is indeed unique in terms of scale and scope, it wasn’t as ad hoc as the public might think as proven by how swiftly the US, the UK, Poland, and the Baltic States sprung into action to help Ukraine through these means shortly after the start of Russia’s special operation. These proxy war plans were always considered for such contingencies, but some NATO members like Germany and close partners like South Korea were initially reluctant to implement them for their own reasons.
With time, this cooperation became the norm within the US-led West’s Golden Billion, and its formalization will ensure closer coordination for future proxy wars against other Global South states. This observation means that the clinching of more “security guarantees” with Ukraine isn’t insignificant, but it’s still important to reaffirm that this doesn’t obligate others to dispatch troops to Ukraine. Essentially, these pacts fall far short of what Ukraine expected, which the following three analyses explain:
* 23 November 2023: “Why Don’t The EU’s Reported Security Guarantees To Ukraine Include Mutual Defense?”
* 7 December 2023: “Rada Member Goncharenko Is Right: ‘There Will Be No NATO’ For Ukraine”
Instead of Article 5-like mutual defense guarantees that are popularly but inaccurately imagined to obligate others to send troops to those of their allies that find themselves under attack regardless of the context, all that Ukraine is being promised is more of the same, which isn’t bad but it’s not good either. After all, one of the reasons why the Ukrainian Conflict began to wind down late last year is because the West couldn’t compete with Russia in the “race of logistics”/“war of attrition”, so supplies are dwindling.
With this in mind, the “security guarantees” that could be reached across the coming year will only serve to reassure Ukraine of the “Ramstein Group’s” support in the event of a continuation conflict sometime in the future even if Kiev provokes it just like it was responsible for provoking Russia’s special operation. The West simply doesn’t have the excess military capacity to maintain the pace, scale, and scope of its armed aid to that former Soviet Republic along the lines of what it previously provided.
Some time is therefore required to rearm ahead of that scenario, which would likely be Kiev provoking the aforementioned continuation conflict at the behest of its Western patrons like before, and this might happen sometime later in the decade. Estonian Prime Minister Kallas recently claimed that the West only has five years to prepare for war with Russia, but given the context as explained, she probably means that Western rearmament should be completed by then in order to rekindle the conflict by 2030.
Between now and then, and remembering the West’s inability to keep up its armed aid to Ukraine, it’s possible that some sort of a deal can be reached for freezing the conflict. Russia will only agree to that if it results in Ukraine’s demilitarization, denazification, and the restoration of its constitutional neutrality, however, which the West has thus far been reluctant to do. Therein lies the dilemma since they can’t keep fighting this proxy war for much longer but they don’t want to satisfy Russia’s demands either.
Absent a diplomatic breakthrough that satisfies Russia’s own “security guarantee” requests as explained, the present conflict will continue and could lead to further gains by Moscow, which might in turn prompt Ukraine’s capitulation, a decisive Western intervention in its support, and/or a compromise. Whatever ends up happening, the present dynamics are that Western aid is dwindling without peace talks in sight, but the West is already preparing for a continuation conflict by 2030.
Western “security guarantees” for Ukraine, the first of which with the UK conspicuously omits any obligation to dispatch troops in its support, are a step in the direction of another proxy war with Russia in Ukraine once the ongoing one ends whenever that might be. Far from amounting to de facto NATO membership with what Article 5 is popularly but inaccurately imagined by the public to entail, they’re just formalizations of the status quo for optimizing the way in which Western proxy wars are waged.