Inside Biden's deal with Ukraine that ties the US for 10 years

Inside Biden's deal with Ukraine that ties the US for 10 years Inside Biden's deal with Ukraine that ties the US for 10 years
  • U.S. loan guarantees to help back aid with interest generated by seized assets
  • 10-year deal commits US to Ukraine security - but is just 'executive agreement'

A new deal backed by up to $50 billion in U.S. loan guarantees will bolster Ukraine's defense for a long war against Russia and signal to Vladimir Putin that allies are committed for the long haul despite its battlefield gains, President Biden said.

The package, agreed to in principle but with key details still missing, will demonstrate that allies aren't 'backing down,' Biden said Thursday in Italy.

The White House is trumpeting the deal as a central achievement of the G7 summit, where allies made progress on the intricate funding plan, even as Biden and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky inked a separate deal committing the U.S. to provide a decade of security assistance.

The plan, years in the making, relies on about $300 billion in seized Russian assets, much of it held in European banks. Not all the members of the coalition were on board with spending the assets outright, which brought policymakers to negotiate ways to use the massive haul of interest.

But even Biden isn't proclaiming an entirely done deal. He said the G7 leaders 'signed a plan to finalize and unlock' the proceeds. His aides also declined to specify exactly how much the U.S. would lend, and how much allies would kick in and even which allies were involved.

A French official said earlier this week that the U.S. funds would be 'topped up' by European allies, indicating an uncertain level of financial commitment.

The idea is to 'put that money to work for Ukraine.' Biden called it 'another reminder to Putin: We’re not backing down. In fact, we’re standing together against this illegal aggression.'

He spoke about the agreement at a press conference with Zelensky, where a huge sign proclaimed a separate security deal they signed.

On a call with reporters Thursday, a senior administration official was unable to say precisely how many allies would contribute, and in what amounts.

The U.S. is expected to shoulder the lion's share of the loan guarantees, based on existing lending authority, according to the administration.

'This will be a loan syndicate,' said a senior administration official.

'How are we going to get repaid? Russia pays. 'The principle is untouched.'

The idea is to 'manage' the risk among allies by tethering it from an income stream of interest – although that won't prevent Russia from coming back at some point to try to claim it.

'Think of it as a secured loan,' said the official. Iran is among nations that have sued at the UN to try to claw back seized assets and accumulated interest.

But there was no final top-line number. 'The United States will not be the only lender in this syndicate.' He said the total born by the U.S. was 'certainly going to be somewhat less than $50' billion.

Biden, meanwhile, touted the one-on-one deal with Ukraine at his Thursday evening press conference.

A huge sign at the event read: 'UNITED STATES-UKRAINE BILATERAL SECURITY AGREEMENT,' and Biden snapped at a reporter who asked an off-topic question about Gaza instead.

The deal, which the two men signed at the beginning of the event, commits the U.S. to supporting the country for years – although as a non-treaty it would not bind a future U.S. administration. Nevertheless, it is a policy that could pressure Donald Trump to stay the course if he were to defeat Biden and regain the White House. (Trump has said he would end the war in one day if elected without saying how).

A senior administration official on Friday defended the deal when asked specifically if it would remain in force if there were 'a different president in place' – meaning Trump.

'This is an executive agreement. It is intended to show United States' steadfast support for Ukraine over the 10 year period. So it is structured in a way that it has both near-term goals in terms of training and equipping but then also in terms of support for institutional reform,' the official said.

'We certainly intend to make good on what is included in this agreement because it is in the interest of the United States to support Ukraine's democratic trajectory to support its economic reforms and reconstruction, but also to defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity. That's the aim of the agreement, but to your point, it is an executive agreement between the United States and Ukraine.'

Zelensky himself said the agreement 'contains a very detailed, legally binding part, and this means that credibility of American support for our Ukrainian independence.'

According to a White House faction, the agreement commits to 'build and maintain Ukraine’s credible defense and deterrence capability' and 'lays out a vision for a Ukrainian future force that is strong, sustainable, and resilient.'

It would 'strengthen Ukraine’s capacity to sustain its fight over the long term, including by building on efforts to bolster in Ukraine’s defense industrial base, and supporting its economic recovery and energy security.'

It also would accelerate Ukraine's integration with Europe through 'implementation of reforms to its democratic, economic, and security institutions in line with its EU accession goals and NATO’s program of reforms.' And it calls for it to a 'achieve a just peace that respects Ukraine’s rights under international law, is underwritten by broad global support, upholds the key principles of the UN Charter, including sovereignty and territorial integrity, and includes accountability for Russia’s actions.'

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