NATO foreign ministers to discuss proposed 100bn euro military fund for Ukraine

The Ukrainian flag, top, flies with other European flags outside the European Parliament, July 5, 2022, in Strasbourg, France. [AP Photo]

U.S Secretary of State Antony Blinken held talks with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg on Wednesday on how to bolster the alliance’s long-term military support for Ukraine.

The United States will host a NATO summit in Washington from July 9 to July 11. Blinken discussed priorities for the meeting with his counterpart as the alliance celebrates its 75th anniversary this year.

“Secretary Blinken and Secretary-General Stoltenberg discussed key priorities for the Washington Summit, including strengthening our shared commitment to Ukraine, furthering NATO’s Indo-Pacific and EU partnerships, and building upon collective defense commitments,” State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said in a statement.

“They also noted the strength of the Alliance, with Finland and Sweden participating as members, and increased investment by Allies,” Miller added.

This week, NATO foreign ministers met in Brussels to discuss a proposal for creating a five-year fund, totaling 100 billion euros or approximately $108 billion, to support Ukraine's military.

The plan, put forward by Stoltenberg, includes making NATO more directly involved in coordinating military assistance provided by member countries — a role that has been filled by a U.S.-led coalition of more than 50 countries.

Stoltenberg told reporters Wednesday it is important that support for Ukraine be less dependent on voluntary, short-term offers and more dependent on longer-term NATO commitments. He said Ukrainian commanders would be better able to make battlefield plans with more predictable support.

Stoltenberg said the plan would also send a message to Russia that it cannot win by keeping the war going until Ukraine’s allies tire of providing support.

“Ukraine has urgent needs,” Stoltenberg said. “Any delay in providing support has consequences on the battlefield as we speak.”

A final decision on the proposal would not come until the NATO summit in July. It requires consensus among its 32 members.
While individual NATO members have been providing arms to Ukraine, the organization as a whole has concentrated on providing nonlethal aid for fear of escalating tensions with Russia through a more direct involvement.

On Thursday, foreign ministers from the security bloc will meet with its partners from the Indo-Pacific.

“North Korea, China, Iran are supporting Russia’s war of aggression in different ways, so this demonstrates that security is not regional security, it’s truly global, and therefore it’s important that we work together with our Asia-Pacific partners,” Stoltenberg said on Wednesday.

Ahead of the Brussels talks, Blinken renewed calls for the U.S. Congress to release military aid for Ukraine.

“We are at a critical moment where it is absolutely essential to get Ukrainians what they continue to need to defend themselves, particularly when it comes to munitions and air defenses,” Blinken said Tuesday during a visit to a defense facility in Paris with French Defense Minister Sébastien Lecornu.

Congress has yet to approve the Biden administration’s supplementary budget request that would resupply Ukraine’s armed forces and help the country fend off Russian offensives.

Biden has called on the Republican-led U.S. House of Representatives to approve the military and financial aid package. House Republicans have delayed action on it for months, prioritizing domestic issues.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has warned that Ukrainian forces will have to retreat “step by step, in small steps,” if Kyiv doesn’t receive the U.S. military aid.