The world’s eyes will be on Elmau this June, as G7 leaders make further commitments to tackle the regional security crisis posed by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine
The war in Ukraine has posed an alarming challenge to the European security architecture, created a profound global crisis and raised the spectre of a high-risk Great Power conflict. The 2022 invasion has also rattled a world economy already battered by the COVID-19 pandemic, with particularly significant effects on developing countries. To tackle this regional security crisis, Germany’s G7 presidency is committed to providing coordinated political and financial support to Ukraine and to addressing the many other impacts of the war.
G7 summits have devoted 8,162 words to Ukraine in their communiqués since its first mention in 1986, averaging 163 words per summit. The lowest total of 18 words (0.2%) was in 2019 and the highest of 950 words (18%) was in 2014, when Russia annexed Crimea and was swiftly suspended from the G8. In terms of the portion of words, the German-hosted virtual summit in February 2022 had the most with 40%.
From 2014 to February 2022, the G7 emphasised Ukraine’s constitutional reform, sovereignty and territorial integrity, a diplomatic solution to the conflict in the framework of the Normandy format and implementation of the Minsk agreements.
From 1975 to February 2022, the G7 made 55 commitments on Ukraine (excluding 16 made in the G7’s declaration at the Hague in March 2014). The first came in 1992, with 2%. Then highs came with 9% at the 1994 and 1999 summits. Lows, with no mention of Ukraine, came between 2001 and 2006, and again between 2011 and 2013.
Following Russia’s annexation of Crimea, the G7’s 2014 summit devoted 4% of its commitments to Ukraine, pledging to support its sovereignty and territorial integrity. Since then, the G7 has made very few Ukraine commitments, dropping in 2015 to 3%, in 2016 to 1% and in 2017 to 0.6%. In 2018, it rose again, with 4%. But it dipped in 2019 to 1% and disappeared in 2020. At all three summits in 2021, just 0.5% went to Ukraine. The virtual summit on 24 February 2022 produced an all-time high of 10%.
The eight Ukraine commitments assessed by the G7 Research Group averaged 74% compliance, slightly lower than the 76% compliance across all subjects. The commitment assessed from 2014 had 100%. High compliance also came in 2015 with 88% and 2017 with 94%. Compliance dropped in 2016 to 62% and 2018 to 66%. Preliminary compliance with one commitment from 2019 was also low at 50%.
By member, the European Union led with 100%, followed by the United States with 93%, the United Kingdom with 86%, Germany with 81% and France with 81%. Canada with 64%, Italy with 57% and Japan with 43% were below average.
Causes and corrections
Compliance performance on Ukraine points to some preliminary possible causes of, and corrections for, G7 members’ compliance.
The three commitments with above average compliance – made in 2014, 2015 and 2017 – averaged a very high 94%; the five below-average compliance had a very low 61%. The three with above average compliance of 94% coincided with summits with a large number and portion of words on Ukraine in the communiqués. The 2014 summit had both the most words on Ukraine and the highest compliance of 100%. Conversely, the 2019 summit had the fewest words, with only 12 and the lowest compliance of only 50%. The 2014 summit also had more commitments on Ukraine, with four, and the 2019 summit only had one.
The three years with the highest compliance came in the four years immediately following the Russian annexation of Crimea in the spring of 2014. This suggests that this unprecedented, severe, shock-activated vulnerability spurred compliance, and that the effect of that shock subsequently diminished. Moreover, the 100% compliance with the 2014 commitment came after the regular G7 summit was preceded by a special meeting on Ukraine (in the Hague). Conversely, the very low compliance of only 50% with the commitment made in 2019 suggests that the French presidency’s approach of abandoning the standard pre-negotiated comprehensive communiqué, for a short statement drafted by the host on the spot, inspired little compliance on Ukraine.
Based on these limited findings, Elmau’s commitments on Ukraine will likely secure high compliance, given the unprecedented shock of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the consequent unprecedented number of G7 summits focused on Ukraine, in the lead-up to G7 leaders’ scheduled meeting in June. To improve compliance further, G7 leaders can keep meeting on the road to Elmau, and produce many communiqué conclusions and commitments on Ukraine there.