NATO and G7 countries on Tuesday and Wednesday issued new formal security guarantees for Ukraine, through these fell far short of Zelensky's hoped-for path to NATO membership.
The declarations were issued from the Vilnius summit, and included pledges to erect "a sustainable force capable of defending Ukraine now and deterring Russian aggression in the future" by continuing to provide modern military equipment, training for Ukrainian forces, and intelligence sharing.
The G7 further vowed "to create the conditions conducive to promoting Ukraine’s economic prosperity" including through recovery efforts, which is to also involve "the need for the establishment of an international mechanism for reparation of damages, loss or injury caused by Russian aggression."
But Ukraine in the meantime is expected to make "necessary reforms" toward democracy.
President Biden, who at one point referred to the Ukrainian leader as "Vladimir",(instead of the preferred Volodymyr) told a press conference after their meeting, "Mr. Zelensky and I talked about the kind of guarantees we could make in the meantime… And so today, the long-term commitments we’re making are backed up by the notion that in the meantime, we’re going to provide security to Ukraine for its needs and against any aggression that may occur."
It was the UK's Prime Minister Rishi Sunak who had the firmest and most optimistic words on the security guarantees, describing a "significant international framework for Ukraine’s long-term security," which would "set out how allies will support Ukraine over the coming years to end the war and deter and respond to any future attack."
"Supporting their progress on the pathway to NATO membership, coupled with formal, multilateral, and bilateral agreements and the overwhelming support of NATO members will send a strong signal to President Putin and return peace to Europe," Sunak continued.
Russia has responded by warning Ukraine will pay a "high price" for these security guarantees.
"The price of security guarantees from the Group of Seven (G7) is a Ukraine cleared of Ukrainians by Western weapons," Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said Wednesday, soon after G7 statements from Lithuania. And more:
Earlier, Ukrainian Defense Minister Alexey Reznikov expressed concern over the G7’s security guarantees, saying that "Kiev will not believe in them until it finds out what their price is."
"The price is not a secret: a Ukraine cleared of Ukrainians by Western weapons but with enough population left to serve NATO troops. There is no need to deport anyone to Western Europe any more because people have moved there themselves," the diplomat wrote on Telegram.
Meanwhile, tensions and cracks in the Western alliance were on full display at the summit...
Biden to Zelensky:— The_Real_Fly (@The_Real_Fly) July 12, 2023
"The bad news for you is, we're not going anywhere. You're stuck with us." pic.twitter.com/Mko0kkAeMS
Separately Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov called the guarantees "erroneous and dangerous" - given the breach the security of Russia. He then blasted NATO as an "offensive alliance" that carries aggression and danger, according to a translation.
But perhaps the most threatening response was from Foreign Minister Lavrov, who in fresh statements warned that when Western F-16s show up in Ukraine, Russia will have no choice but to treat this as a nuclear threat, given the warplanes' capability of carrying tactical nukes.