NATO pledges billions for Ukraine as US set to station long-range missiles in Europe again

Washington DC - NATO leaders on Wednesday pledged €40 billion ($43 billion) worth of military aid to Ukraine in the next year and declared the country's path to full membership of the alliance "irreversible."

NATO countries agreed to a $43-billion funding package for Ukraine, which has been battling a Russian invasion since 2022.
NATO countries agreed to a $43-billion funding package for Ukraine, which has been battling a Russian invasion since 2022.  © REUTERS

Leaders from NATO's 32 member states reached the agreement on the second day of a three-day summit in Washington, after a celebration of the organization's 75th anniversary on Tuesday.

The spending plan was proposed by NATO's outgoing Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at a foreign ministers' meeting in Prague in May. However, Stoltenberg had wanted NATO members to make a multi-year commitment to Ukraine in order to show Russia it cannot win the war by waiting for Western support to wither.

Instead, because of disagreements over how to divvy up responsibilities, the funding will be reviewed next year, Stoltenberg said in a press conference on Wednesday.

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"We have agreed that €40 billion is a minimum baseline within the next year and to ensure sustainable funding for Ukraine to prevail," Stoltenberg said. "We also agreed to review this at our summit in 2025, not least to ensure it continues to meet Ukraine's needs."

The summit declaration published on Wednesday also says allies will continue to support Ukraine's "irreversible path to full Euro-Atlantic integration, including NATO membership."

However, it also underscores that Ukraine can only join when all current members agree. The US and Germany in particular are against rushing the process, diplomatic sources within the alliance said. But other NATO member states want to demonstrate that Russia cannot put the brakes on Ukraine joining NATO by waging war against the country.

NATO has accepted the idea of Ukrainian membership in principle since 2008, while Ukraine has had its NATO membership ambitions enshrined in its national constitution since 2019.

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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is also present at the NATO summit in Washington DC.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is also present at the NATO summit in Washington DC.  © REUTERS

Alongside the $43 billion pledge, NATO leaders also agreed to launch a project that will see the alliance coordinate military support and training for Ukraine for the first time.

The project, called NATO Security Assistance and Training for Ukraine (NSATU), is expected to launch on Friday.

Until now, NATO countries have been coordinating support to Ukraine through an informal, US-led group called the Ukraine Defense Contact Group. NSATU will see NATO itself formally coordinate support.

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NSATU aims to put NATO allies' support for Ukraine "on an enduring footing," according to the NATO declaration. "NSATU will not, under international law, make NATO a party to the conflict," it stresses.

The summit declaration also calls on China to cease "all material and political support to Russia's war effort." China "cannot enable the largest war in Europe in recent history without this negatively impacting its interests and reputation," the declaration said. China has repeatedly rejected all accusations that it is taking sides in the Ukraine war.

On the sidelines of the summit, the US, the Netherlands, and Denmark issued a joint statement saying that the promised transfer of US-made F-16 fighter jets from the Netherlands and Denmark to Ukraine is now under way.

US President Joe Biden on Tuesday had opened the summit by announcing that NATO allies would supply additional air defense systems to Ukraine.

The US and Germany also issued a joint statement on Wednesday announcing that the US will station long-range cruise missiles in Germany for the first time since the 1990s.

Cover photo: REUTERS

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