Politics

Finland is Latest NATO State to Sign 10-Year Defence Deal With Ukraine

Ukraine has cemented yet another ‘NATO-lite’ deal with an alliance member, inking a ten-year agreement with Finland that sees more supplies promised, and an undertaking to provide “swift and sustained security assistance” in future.

An agreement that reaffirms Finnish support for Ukraine militarily, financially, and politically while stating Finland will be involved in efforts to prosecute Russian figures for war crimes was signed on Wednesday. The deal is the eighth such agreement, all with reasonably similar contents, signed with a NATO member state this year.

While in many cases the content is essentially reaffirming things Finland is already doing, the document does announce new, further funding for Ukraine worth $203 million.

The agreement is largely one way and very focussed on the dangers of future, repeated Russian invasions of Ukraine and does not call upon Kyiv to come to Finland’s aid, should Moscow invade Europe to the north. Finland has an 800-mile land border with Russia.

Clauses within the document allow either party to withdraw given six months notice, and automatically terminate the document ten years from today. In the paper, Finland promises: “In the event of a future Russian armed attack against Ukraine… will provide swift and sustained security assistance, including modern military equipment across land, sea and air domains. In addition, Finland will provide economic assistance, impose economic and other costs on Russia”.

Also mentioned is Russian complicity in war crimes against Ukraine, and Finland undertakes to ensure there is no “impunity” for war crimes for Russian leaders. It affirms that: “the Russian Federation must be held accountable for the damages caused by its internationally wrongful acts in and against Ukraine”.

Eight NATO members have now signed such deals with Ukraine. The first was the United Kingdom in January, followed by Germany, France, Denmark, Canada, Italy, the Netherlands, and now Finland. The deals have been characterised as creating a ‘NATO lite’-type security guarantees for Ukraine with key alliance members on a quasi-bilateral basis without actually inducting Ukraine into the alliance.

Signing individual deals rather than a collective agreement has the advantage of speed, as member states wary of formalising their status as an underwriter of Ukrainian defence and dedicating themselves to supplying aid in the case of “any future Russian invasion” don’t have to be involved.

Writing a sunset clause into the deals also means those participating states aren’t beholden to underwriting Ukrainian defence indefinitely, while still making clear they are willing to come to the country’s aid in the medium-term, at least. As said by the French when they signed their own equivalent deal in February, it is symbolic and shows “that our determination to provide support to Ukraine is as strong as on the first day”.

Joining NATO has been a repeatedly stated aim of Volodymyr Zelensky, but his nation does not yet meet the accession requirements, and in any case member states are wary of welcoming a member that is partially occupied by a foreign power. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said of this last year: “we then have to discuss which security guarantees can be given in a post-war situation. But we are far from there yet. Now we are concentrating on what is coming up… NATO’s criteria include a whole series of conditions that Ukraine cannot currently meet”.

 



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