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NATO ministers mull 100 billion euro military fund for Ukraine

NATO ministers mull 100 billion euro military fund for Ukraine
NATO ministers mull 100 billion euro military fund for Ukraine

اخبار العرب-كندا 24: الأربعاء 3 أبريل 2024 08:21 صباحاً

By Andrew Gray and John Irish

BRUSSELS (Reuters) -NATO foreign ministers met on Wednesday to discuss how to put military support for Ukraine on a long-term footing, including a proposal for a 100 billion euro ($107 billion) five-year fund and a plan seen as a way to "Trump-proof" aid for Kyiv.

The proposals by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg would give the Western alliance a more direct role in coordinating the supply of arms, ammunition and equipment to Ukraine as it fights Russia's invasion, diplomats say.

"We need to shift the dynamics of our support," Stoltenberg said as he arrived at the Brussels meeting.

"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 declined to confirm levels of funding and said the aim was for a decision to be taken at a July summit of NATO member states' leaders.

Under the plans, NATO would take over some coordination work from a U.S.-led ad-hoc coalition known as the Ramstein group - a move designed in part to guard against any cut in U.S. support if Donald Trump returns to the White House, diplomats said.

Until now, NATO as an organisation has focused on non-lethal aid for Ukraine out of fears that a more direct role could trigger an escalation of tensions with Russia. Its members have provided billions of dollars in arms on a bilateral basis.

Diplomats said there was a growing view within NATO that it was time to put military aid to Ukraine on a more sustainable footing and NATO was best placed to do that.

But they said it was unclear whether the 100 billion euro figure would be accepted or how it would be financed. NATO decisions require consensus among its 32 members.

SUPPORT?

Arriving at the talks, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock described the proposal as "right and important", saying that aid for Ukraine should be disbursed via "reliable, long-term structures".

Story continues

Latvian Foreign Minister Krisjanis Karins also welcomed the 100-billion euro fund proposal, suggesting that contributions could be a percentage of each member's GDP.

But in a sign that a decision may not be easy, Hungary signalled scepticism about at least some elements of Stoltenberg's proposal.

Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto "firmly stated Hungary will not back any @NATO proposals that might draw the alliance closer to war or shift it from a defensive to an offensive coalition," government spokesman Zoltan Kovacs said on X.

Belgian Foreign Minister Hadja Lahbib said ministers would discuss the feasibility of Stoltenberg's proposal and what each could contribute.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who will attend the meeting, said in Paris on Tuesday that NATO was looking at measures that could serve as the "necessary bridge" for Ukraine joining the alliance.

NATO has said Ukraine cannot join while it is at war with Russia but that it will become a member at some point.

($1 = 0.9288 euros)

(Additional reporting by Benoit Van Overstraeten, Nette Nostlinger, Geert De Clercq, Andreas Rinke and Inti Landauro; Writing by Andrew Gray and Ingrid Melander; Editing by Stephen Coates, Ros Russell and Gareth Jones)

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