When Ukraine’s army is given the weapons it needs, it defeats Russia on the battlefield. That is the lesson the world learned as it watched Ukrainian forces quickly retake the Kharkiv region this month. Since the beginning of September, Ukrainian forces have liberated more than 2,300 square miles of territory in the south and east of the country.

The discovery of further Russian war crimes has darkened the joy of liberation. As in Bucha, Ukrainian forces have uncovered mass graves and evidence of torture in Balakliya, Izyum and villages across the Kharkiv region and beyond. The barbarism of the Russian occupation shows why the world must support Ukraine in finishing this war and bringing those responsible to justice. Ukraine’s allies must ensure this can never happen again.

That is the aim of the recommendations for security guarantees we presented to President Volodymyr Zelensky. We call for the creation of the Kyiv Security Compact between Ukraine and its partners. The principle is simple: Ukraine’s security relies primarily on its ability to defend itself. Ukraine needs long-term contributions from its allies to do this effectively.


This doesn’t replace Ukraine’s ambition to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. This aspiration is safeguarded in Ukraine’s Constitution and remains a sovereign decision. In the long run both NATO and European Union membership would bolster Ukraine’s security. But these goals will take time to achieve. Security guarantees can protect Ukraine now.

Ukraine at War Update for April 17: ‘Russia Kidnapped 37,000 Ukrainians Since 2014’
Other Topics of Interest

Ukraine at War Update for April 17: ‘Russia Kidnapped 37,000 Ukrainians Since 2014’

US Congress still wavers on more funding for Ukraine amid Russia's full-scale invasion.

Ukraine needs to develop and maintain a significant military capable of withstanding Russia’s armed forces and paramilitary organizations. This requires a multidecade commitment from Ukraine’s allies. We call for sustained investment in Ukraine’s industrial defense base, the transfer of NATO standard weapons, intelligence sharing, and intensive training missions under both EU and NATO flags. We must ensure that the cost of a future attack on Ukraine is too high to bear.


One example of how allies can enhance Ukraine’s security is by providing modern and effective air-defense and antimissile systems. In reaction to Ukraine’s recent victories on the battlefield, Russia has resorted to targeting civilian infrastructure with long-range missiles. This is a war crime. To protect the civilian population and allow reconstruction, Ukraine’s allies must supply what is needed to prevent air attacks.

Security guarantees must come from a core group of Ukraine’s allies with significant military capabilities that are prepared to make politically and legally binding commitments. This could include the U.S., U.K., Canada, Poland, Italy, Germany, France, Australia, Turkey and the Nordic, Baltic and Central European countries.

Alongside the commitments of military support, a broader group of international partners should back a set of sanction guarantees. This would include Group of 7 and EU member states, as well as other countries currently enforcing sanctions on Russia, such as South Korea and Japan. These commitments should also include snapback provisions to reinstate sanctions automatically in case of further Russian aggression.

The Budapest Memorandum of 1994, which included a security promise in return for Ukraine’s giving up its nuclear weapons, proved worthless. The Kyiv Security Compact would be different. It would focus on providing practical material support to enhance Ukraine’s ability to defend itself. Unlike the Budapest Memorandum, Russia can’t block the compact’s application through the United Nations Security Council. If Ukraine is attacked, guarantor states would convene within 24 hours and decide on what action to take within 72 hours.


The global security system is shattered. The traditional frameworks and approaches failed to stop a permanent Security Council member becoming an aggressor and blackmailer. Vladimir Putin believes that faced with a harsh winter, the world’s support for Ukraine will falter. Adopting these recommendations would send a strong signal that it won’t.

Mr. Putin must learn that the free world’s commitment to Ukraine is solid, that his war is futile. Ukraine needs guarantees now. Delaying the process encourages the Kremlin to continue its unlawful war.

Most important, these guarantees would signal to the Ukrainian people that its allies believe in a secure and independent Ukraine. If we get these guarantees right, we can build a new cornerstone for global security. If we fail, it means an open-ended crisis on European soil.


Mr. Yermak is head of the Office of the President of Ukraine. Mr. Rasmussen served as NATO secretary general (2009-14) and prime minister of Denmark (2001-09).

Originally published in the Wall Street Journal. Reprinted with permission of the President’s Office.

To suggest a correction or clarification, write to us here
You can also highlight the text and press Ctrl + Enter

Comments (0)

Write the first comment for this!