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NATO stumbles on €40 billion Ukraine plan

The long-term funding of Kiev requires more work, Jens Stoltenberg has said

There is no agreement in NATO just yet regarding the proposal to fund Kiev to the tune of €40 ($43) billion, Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg admitted on Friday.

The issue came up at the meeting of the US-led bloc’s defense ministers in Brussels. Italy reportedly did not agree with the proposal, which was already scaled down from Stoltenberg’s initial €100 billion request.

The “long-term financial pledge” is one of the four things NATO needs to “deliver for Ukraine” by the Washington summit next month, Stoltenberg told reporters after the meeting. 

“We have not yet agreement on that,” he admitted.

“Many allies are very supportive of the idea that we need not only to have short term pledges – they are welcome, of course – but if we could have more long-term predictable pledges, it will give the Ukrainians better planning assumptions,” Stoltenberg said. “It will give more predictability and transparency and assure a minimal or fair burden-sharing within the alliance. And most importantly, it will send a message to Moscow that they cannot wait us out.”

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NATO ministers did agree on the plan for Security Assistance and Training for Ukraine and pledged to send more ammunition and equipment to Kiev in the short term, Stoltenberg pointed out, adding that “there will be new announcements in the coming days and weeks.”

That leaves the financial pledge and the “language” for Ukraine’s possible membership to be worked out in the “some weeks” remaining before the Washington summit, according to the NATO secretary-general.

Kiev expected a formal invitation to the bloc last year, at the NATO summit in Vilnius. When it did not arrive, Vladimir Zelensky launched a tirade on social media, angering Washington. The US-led bloc eventually said it would be in a position to invite Ukraine “when allies agree and conditions are met.”

On Thursday, Stoltenberg said “an absolute minimum” condition for Ukraine’s membership would be defeating Russia. The US and its allies have funneled weapons, ammunition, and equipment to Ukraine over the past two years, while insisting they are not a party to the conflict. 

Russian President Vladimir Putin announced on Friday that Moscow would be ready for a ceasefire if Kiev signed a pledge never to join NATO and withdrew its troops from the four regions that have chosen to join Russia. Kiev has denounced the proposal as an “ultimatum” and rejected it.

June 14, 2024 at 11:35PM

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