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Biden and Zelensky to sign security agreement between US and Ukraine at summit

National security adviser Jake Sullivan said the agreement would not commit US troops directly to Ukraine’s defence against Russia’s invasion.

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Joe Biden shakes hands with Volodymyr Zelensky at a table with their nations' flags in the background

President Joe Biden and President Volodymyr Zelensky will sign a bilateral security agreement between the US and Ukraine on Thursday when they meet on the sidelines of the G7 summit.

The announcement came as negotiators for the group reached an agreement on how to provide Ukraine with up to 50 billion dollars backed by frozen Russian assets, according to two people familiar with the matter.

The international group of wealthy democracies has been discussing ways of using the more than 260 billion dollars in Russian assets frozen outside the country after the February 2022 invasion of Ukraine to help Kyiv.

European officials have resisted confiscating the assets, citing legal and financial stability concerns – most of the frozen assets are located in Europe – but the plan would use the interest earned on the assets to help Ukraine’s war effort.

An official with the French presidency confirmed the announcement on Wednesday.

The announcement of the agreement comes as Mr Biden heads to the G7 summit with an urgency to get big things done, including turning frozen Russian assets into billions of dollars to help Ukraine fight Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war machine.

The security arrangement was aimed at sending a signal to Russia of American resolve in supporting Kyiv, the White House said as Mr Biden was headed to Europe.

National security adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters that the agreement would not commit US troops directly to Ukraine’s defence against Russia’s invasion – a red line drawn by Mr Biden, who is fearful of being drawn into direct conflict between the nuclear-armed powers.

“We want to demonstrate that the US supports the people of Ukraine, that we stand with them and that we’ll continue to help address their security needs,” Mr Sullivan said, adding “this agreement will show our resolve”.

Mr Sullivan called the agreement a “bridge” to when Ukraine is invited to join the Nato alliance – a long-term priority of Mr Zelensky’s that the allies have said will first require an end to the Russia-Ukraine war.

Mr Biden heads to the summit of the world’s leading democracies with an urgency to get big things done, including turning frozen Russian assets into billions of dollars to help Ukraine as it fights off Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war machine.

This year’s G7 summit comes three years after Mr Biden declared at his first such gathering that America was back as a global leader following the disruptions to western alliances that occurred when Donald Trump was president.

Now, there is a chance this gathering could be the final G7 for Mr Biden and other G7 leaders, depending on the results of elections this year.

President Joe Biden is saluted as he exits the Marine One helicopter
President Joe Biden is heading to Italy for the G7 summit (Luis M Alvarez/AP)

Mr Biden and his counterparts from Canada, the UK, France, Germany, Italy and Japan will use the summit to discuss challenges related to the spread of artificial intelligence, migration, the Russian military’s resurgence and China’s economic might, among other topics.

Pope Francis, Mr Zelensky and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan are joining the gathering at the Borgo Egnazia resort in the Puglia region of southern Italy.

The summit, which opens on Thursday, will play out after far-right parties across the continent secured gains of surprising scale in just-concluded European Union elections.

Those victories, coupled with upcoming elections in the UK, France and the US, have rattled the global political establishment and added weightiness to this year’s summit.

“You hear this a lot when you talk to US 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 Centre, an international affairs think tank.

“We don’t know what the world will look like three months, six months, nine months from now.”

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