NATO Reaches Agreement on New Security and Training Plan for Ukraine

June 14, 2024 by No Comments

NATO defense ministers gathered in Brussels on Thursday to discuss a new plan for providing long-term security assistance and military training to Ukraine. The plan aims to address the ongoing challenges faced by Ukraine amid Russia’s invasion, following Hungary’s agreement not to veto the proposal as long as it is not forced to participate.

The ministers’ meeting is a key step ahead of a NATO summit scheduled for July 9-11 in Washington, where leaders are expected to announce financial support for Ukraine.

Western allies are working to strengthen their military support for Ukraine as Russian troops continue their offensive along the front lines, taking advantage of delays in U.S. and EU military aid.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg emphasized the need for long-term predictability regarding the type and amount of weapons, ammunition, and funds provided to Ukraine.

“The whole idea is to minimize the risk for gaps and delays as we saw earlier this year,” Stoltenberg said, explaining that the earlier hold-up “is one of the reasons why the Russians are now able to push and to actually occupy more land in Ukraine.”

Since Russia’s full-scale invasion in February 2022, Western allies have regularly met as part of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group, led by the Pentagon, to coordinate arms and ammunition supplies for Ukraine. Another meeting of the contact group took place at NATO headquarters on Thursday.

Canadian Defence Minister Bill Blair announced that his country would send Ukraine 2,300 rocket motors, with an additional 80,000 being tested. “Pending the results of those tests, we intend to ship more packages of these motors to our Ukrainian partners in the future,” he said.

However, there was no progress on securing the Patriot guided missile systems that Ukraine urgently requires and has been requesting for months. These systems, apart from their effectiveness, are particularly valuable because Ukrainian troops are already trained to operate them.

“I continue to work this,” U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said, adding, “We’re going to do everything we can to make sure they have the capability they need.”

While the Ukraine Defense Contact Group meetings have resulted in significant battlefield support, they have been ad-hoc and unpredictable. Stoltenberg has been leading efforts to have NATO take on a more structured role in this effort.

The proposed plan involves NATO coordinating security assistance and training, partly by leveraging its command structure and drawing on funds from its common budget.

Stoltenberg expressed hope that President Biden and other NATO leaders would agree in Washington to maintain the current funding level for military support to Ukraine, which he estimates at around 40 billion euros ($43 billion) worth of equipment per year.

On Wednesday, Hungary announced that it would not veto the plan, provided that it is not required to participate.

“I asked the Secretary-General to make it clear that all military action outside NATO territory can only be voluntary in nature, according to NATO rules and our traditions,” said. “Hungary has received the guarantees we need.”

NATO, as an organization, does not send weapons or ammunition to Ukraine and has no plans to deploy troops on the ground. However, many individual NATO members provide assistance on a bilateral basis, collectively contributing over 90% of Ukraine’s military support.

NATO’s other 31 members perceive Russia’s war on Ukraine as an existential security threat to Europe. However, most of them, including Biden, have exercised caution to ensure that NATO does not become involved in a wider conflict with Russia.

NATO operates under the principle that an attack on any one member will be met with a collective response.