NATO to give more support for Ukraine

NATA will launch a new program to provide more reliable aid and training to Ukraine and help it get ready to join the alliance.

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World News

July 11, 2024 - 3:38 PM

From left, President Joe Biden, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and Lithuania's President Gitanas Nauseda attend the first work session as part of the NATO summit, in Vilnius on July 11, 2023. NATO leaders will grapple with Ukraine's membership ambitions at their summit on July 11, 2023, their determination to face down Russia boosted by a breakthrough in Sweden's bid to join the alliance. Photo by Jacques Witt/Pool/AFP/Getty Images/TNS

WASHINGTON (AP) — NATO has agreed to launch a new program to provide reliable military aid and training to Ukraine and help it get ready to join the alliance.

The plan will supplement, but not replace, the two-year-old Ukraine Defense Contact Group, which was created by U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin after Russia launched its February 2022 invasion into Ukraine. That group, with more than 50 nations from Europe and around the world, coordinates the delivery of much-needed weapons and training to Ukraine.

But the failure of the U.S. Congress to fund any weapons for months due to partisan gridlock late last year and early this year, as well as similar lags in European Union funds, underscored how vulnerable that effort was to the vagaries of politics.

And the delays allowed Russian troops to gain the advantage on the battlefield, and led to widespread complaints from Ukraine’s forces about lack of equipment and weapons.

Some officials have described the new NATO organization as a way to “Trump-proof” alliance support for Ukraine in case former President Donald Trump wins the November election. But that may be a reach.

Here’s what is planned and what it will and won’t do:

Ukraine Defense Contact Group

Over the past two years, the U.S.-created group has evolved into a more sophisticated and organized effort that so far has pumped more than $100 billion in weapons, equipment and training into Ukraine.

The U.S. alone has sent more than $53.6 billion in security aid, including about $25 billion in presidential drawdown authority, under which weapons are taken from Pentagon stocks and sent quickly to Ukraine. The U.S. has provided more than $27 billion in longer-term funding for weapons contracts through the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative.

The rest of the NATO members and other international partners have provided about $50 billion in weapons and security assistance, according to the Kiel Institute for the World Economy, an independent research organization based in Germany.

An international coordination center was set up at Lucius D. Clay Kaserne, the U.S. Army base in Wiesbaden, Germany, to identify Ukraine’s needs, and to locate equipment, weapons and spare parts in other countries that could fill those requirements. That group may eventually be absorbed into the new NATO organization.

And the contact group set up eight so-called capability coalitions headed by various countries to concentrate on specific military requirements: such as fighter aircraft, tanks, artillery, naval assets, air defense, de-mining, cyber and drones. Those are expected to continue.

The new NATO plan

Under the plan endorsed by NATO heads of state on Wednesday, the alliance will take on a broader role to coordinate training and equipment donations.

The effort will be based at the U.S. Army Garrison Wiesbaden in Germany and is expected to be led by a U.S. three-star general. There will be about 700 staff members, including some who will work at logistics nodes in eastern allied nations.

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