Concurrent with the recent G-7 summit, NATO Brussels summit, and meeting between presidents Biden and Putin, the international community has once again turned its attention to Russian aggression in Ukraine.
Some signals demonstrate strong support for Ukrainian security. Several international visitors (including a French delegation of parliamentarians and an OSCE delegation composed primarily of Swedish leaders) visited the front lines of the Russian invasion in Ukraine, with French National Assembly member Pierre Person pledging to push for Ukrainian NATO ascension and French military aid. Following the NATO summit, member states released a joint communique reaffirming full “support for the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine,” claiming that “conflict in and around Ukraine is…the first topic on our agenda,” and confirming that Ukraine will eventually “become a member of the Alliance with the Membership Action Plan.” President Biden repeatedly echoes these strong statements. Meanwhile, the U.S. Congress has approved a $150 million package for the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative, a major addition to the $125 million allocated to Ukraine in March.
However, the Ukrainian government views other signals in a less positive light. First and foremost, international discussions of regional security do not always give Ukraine a voice. Biden did not meet with Zelensky prior to meeting with Putin—a meeting in which Ukraine was discussed, but no groundbreaking statements concerning Ukraine have been released. Similarly, NATO member states did not invite Ukraine to attend the recent summit. Following the summit, both Biden and NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg asserted that Ukraine is not ready to receive a Membership Action Plan.
Adding to the discussions, Ukrainian Minister of Foreign Affairs Kuleba recently condemned the Russian treatment of OSCE observers in Ukraine, calling the curtailing of the OSCE mandate an insult and an attempt to prevent independent observation of the Russian invasion. However, Kuleba also expressed his readiness for a “substantive conversation” with his Russian counterpart, Minister Lavrov, in the Normandy Format.
While discussions continue, so too does Russian aggression in Ukraine. Between June tenth and sixteenth, the Ukrainian Joint Forces Operation Command reported over 46 Russian ceasefire violations and several Russian Orlan-3M flyovers of the northern Luhansk oblast. One soldier was killed in action by a gunshot wound, and another was injured during Russian shelling. Two more servicemen were injured by an explosive device, though teams removed and disarmed more than 815 explosive devices in the past week alone.