NATO Foreign Ministers Discuss $108bn Aid to Support Ukraine

Foreign ministers from NATO’s 32 member states met in Brussels on Wednesday to discuss a proposed 100 billion euros (or $108 billion) fund for long-term military support to Ukraine.

“The secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg, has proposed creating an envelope of €100 billion over five years,” Belgian Foreign Minister Hadja Lahbib told reporters ahead of the meeting at NATO headquarters, adding: “We’ll analyse the feasibility of this proposal.”

At the moment, NATO itself is not officially providing any lethal aid to Ukraine’s defensive war against Russia’s invasion of its territory.

Instead, NATO member states have coordinated military aid through the Ukraine Contact Group, an initiative chaired by the United States.

But a proposal from Stoltenberg would see that role transferred to NATO proper, along with creating a 100 billion-euro-five-year fund for Ukraine.

“We must ensure reliable and predictable security assistance to Ukraine for a long haul so that we rely less on voluntary contributions and more on NATO commitments, less on short-term offers and more on multi-year pledges,” he said.

Diplomats say the proposal is intended to protect the support provided by the Ukraine Contact Group from former United States president Donald Trump, who could be returned to the White House by-elections due to be held in November.

There are doubts about Trump’s willingness to support Ukraine in the long term, particularly after Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, a Trump ally, said the former president “will not give a penny” to the Ukrainian war effort.

Speaking to the press on Wednesday, however, Stoltenberg refused to be drawn on whether his proposal had anything to do with the possible return of Trump. He said the point is to make military aid to Ukraine more stable and predictable.

“We must ensure reliable and predictable security assistance to Ukraine for the long haul so that we rely less on voluntary contributions and more on NATO commitments, less on short-term offers and more on multi-year pledges,” he said.

“NATO allies provide 99 per cent of all military support to Ukraine.

“Doing more under NATO would make our efforts more efficient and more effective.

“Moscow should understand that it cannot achieve its goals on the battlefield and cannot wait us out,” he added.

Lahbib said there’d be no decision on the proposal at this week’s two-day meeting on Wednesday and Thursday, but that it will be discussed in preparation for a NATO summit that will be held in Washington in July.

Both Spanish Foreign Minister, José Manuel Albares Bueno, and his German counterpart, Annalena Baerbock underscored the importance of ensuring there’s no duplication of efforts between NATO and the EU, which has an off-budget fund for Ukraine military aid.

“We can evaluate it (the proposed fund), of course, but I believe that what we must not do in any case is duplicate efforts,” Albares said.

“We must not duplicate bilaterally what can best be done jointly in the European Union and we must not duplicate within NATO what the European Union does,” the Spanish foreign minister added.

The two-day NATO meeting is the first with Sweden participating as a member of the alliance, having joined the bloc on March 7. Thursday, the second day of the meeting will feature a wreath-laying ceremony to mark the 75th anniversary of NATO’s formation.

NATO flew in the alliance’s original founding North Atlantic Treaty from Washington, especially for the anniversary. The document was brought to NATO headquarters with a police escort.

The 75th anniversary comes when the threat from Russia towards NATO is at its highest level since the Cold War with the full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine. Hanging over the meeting is the question of who will succeed Stoltenberg as NATO secretary general.

Most NATO members back Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte. However, the winning candidate needs the support of all allies. Hungary opposes Rutte and Turkey is yet to back him. Romanian President Klaus Iohannis has also put himself forward for the position.

Also on the agenda for Thursday is a meeting between NATO foreign ministers and their counterparts from four allied non-NATO members in the Pacific: Australia, New Zealand, Japan, and South Korea. EU foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell will also attend. #NATO Foreign Ministers Discuss $108bn Aid to Support Ukraine Naira Steadies as Banks Issue Update on FX Purchase

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