US' security guarantee consultation 'a political gesture to pacify, embolden Ukraine'
Published: Aug 01, 2023 02:47 AM
US Ukraine crisis Illustration: Liu Rui/GT

US Ukraine crisis Illustration: Liu Rui/GT

With no significant breakthrough in a recent  counterattack, a senior Ukrainian official said Kiev is set to start consultations with the US this week on providing security guarantee pending the completion of the process of joining NATO. While Russia warned on Sunday that Moscow "would be forced" to deploy a nuclear weapon if Kiev's NATO-backed counteroffensive succeeded. 

Analysts said the "security guarantee" consultation was  a political gesture aimed at pacifying Ukraine after NATO's snub Kiev's entry, and won't have much impact on the battlefield. It's almost impossible for the US and NATO to join the direct military conflict against Russia, which they are aware that would mean disaster for the whole of Europe, they said.  

The announcement, made by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy's chief of staff Andriy Yermak on  Telegram Sunday, following a G7 nations' commitment on NATO summit earlier this month to draw up and honor security guarantees. 

According to Yermak, the security guarantees offered to  Ukraine will be "concrete, long-term obligations" ensuring Ukraine's capacity to defeat Russia in the future. 

"These will be clearly drafted formats and mechanisms of support," Yermak said, noting that the guarantees "will be in effect until Ukraine secures NATO membership," according to Reuters report. 

Cui Heng, an assistant research fellow from the Center for Russian Studies of East China Normal University, told the Global Times that the "security guarantee" consultation is a US political gesture aimed at pacifying and emboldening Ukraine. 

It is not in the name of NATO to guarantee Ukraine's security… and without this consultation, the US is still in effect supporting Ukraine militarily, said Cui, noting that the essence of "security guarantee" is to determine the existing issues in a formal way, but it unlikely to have much impact on the situation on the battlefield.

Li Haidong, a professor at the China Foreign Affairs University, told the Global Times on Monday that the security assistance that the US can provide to Ukraine is a steady stream of weapons and assistance from its allies to Ukraine, but the "security guarantee" will be far from an agreement similar to  NATO's Article 5 and may just involve security consultations, assistance and advice.

Military assistance in no way means that the US and NATO will be engaged in a direct military conflict with Russia for Ukraine. And the possibility that NATO will engage Russia on the battlefield, if realized, is likely to result in a nuclear conflict, an option that would be disastrous for all European countries, Li said. 

Such a "security guarantee" would largely be a US-led arrangement designed to continue to deplete Russia at Ukraine's expense, rather than a genuine guarantee of Kiev's security, Li said, "This is precisely in line with the overall thinking of the US and NATO in handling the Russia-Ukraine conflict."

Russia on Sunday blamed Ukraine over a drone attack in Moscow, while Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky has warned that war is rebounding on Russia, with Dmitry Medvedev, deputy chairman of Russia's Security Council, on Sunday responded that Moscow would have to use a nuclear weapon if Kiev's counter offensive was a success and "tore off a part of our land," according to media reports.  

According to Cui, all sides including Russia, are reluctant to see the use of nuclear weapons, and even the US and NATO have always held a line to restrain Ukraine from a large-scale attack of the Russia's land and avoid overprovoking.

One scenario for the use of nuclear weapons is that Russia has no other means to win the conflict, according to the expert. However, battlefield situation is not overly pessimistic for Russia now, and it still has means to use, Cui added.

Even with the military assistance provided by  the US and NATO, it is still difficult for Ukraine to ultimately win on the battlefield without the West's direct participation in the conflict. And it would still be difficult for Ukraine to get real security guarantees through the NATO,  Li said, "that's the brutal reality of NATO and US policy toward Ukraine."