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US, Ukraine to sign security agreement
Europe Ukraine

US, Ukraine to sign security agreement

U.S. President Joe Biden and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy are set to sign a long-term defense and security agreement Thursday at the Group of Seven summit in Italy.

Signing the agreement, said White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan, notifies Russia of U.S. resolve.

“If Vladimir Putin thinks he can outlast the coalition supporting Ukraine, he’s wrong,” said Sullivan, who added that the deal, already co-signed by 15 other countries, would not commit U.S. troops directly to Ukraine’s defense against Russia’s invasion.

“We’re going to continue to drive up costs for the Russian war machine,” White House national security spokesperson John Kirby told reporters on Tuesday. “We will announce new steps to unlock the value of the immobilized Russian sovereign assets to benefit Ukraine and to help them recover from the destruction that Mr. Putin’s army has caused.”

Will Pomeranz, director of the Wilson Center’s Kennan Institute, told VOA that, according to reports, the EU has decided to seize some of Russia’s assets in European banks and distribute them to Ukraine.

“This has been a real sticking point for Western financial institutions,” he said, because they realize that other countries will be reluctant to continue doing business with them. He said he thought this move is just the beginning of Russia’s seized assets being sent to Ukraine.

G7 leaders are also planning to use the summit to address several other challenges, including the war in the Middle East, trade imbalances with China, artificial intelligence and migration.

This year’s summit, to be held June 13-15, could be the last for G7 leaders facing political challenges at home. Biden, a Democrat, is in a tight race against former President Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee, while several far-right European parties enjoyed political gains in recent European Union elections.

Some political analysts fear what could happen if the G7 leaders fail to come to a consensus now on shared issues.

“You hear this a lot when you talk to U.S. and European officials: If we can’t get this done now, whether it’s on China, whether it’s on the assets, we may not have another chance,” said Josh Lipsky, senior director of the Atlantic Council’s GeoEconomics Center, an international affairs think tank. “We don’t know what the world will look like three months, six months, nine months from now.”

Kirby, however, struck a more optimistic note.

“We have every confidence that regardless of who fills the seats in the European Parliament, we’re going to continue to work closely with our EU partners on all the issues relative to our shared interests across the European continent,” he said. “That includes supporting Ukraine.”

Biden, who plans to hold a joint press conference after his Thursday meeting with Zelenskyy, is scheduled to arrive in Italy late Wednesday. His trip comes after his son, Hunter, was convicted of lying in 2018 about his drug use to purchase a gun illegally, making the president’s son the first child of a sitting president convicted of a crime.

In May, former U.S. President Donald Trump was also convicted on felony charges.

Some information for this report came from the Associated Press, Reuters and Agence France-Presse.