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NATO Leaders Debate Multiyear Military Aid Package for Ukraine

  • NATO leaders are discussing ways to increase military support for Ukraine, including a potential 40 billion euro aid package.
  • President Biden pledged unwavering support for Ukraine and announced further weapons donations.
  • The summit takes place amid intensified Russian bombing and concerns about US political uncertainty.
NATO

NATO leaders gathered in Washington for a landmark summit are set to look into ways to bolster support for Ukraine in its war against Russia's aggression as U.S. President Joe Biden strongly reaffirmed the 32-member alliance's "full support" for Kyiv.

NATO leaders on July 10 are to discuss a proposal by outgoing Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg to provide Ukraine with 40 billion euros ($43 billion) in military aid for next year, after member states couldn't agree on a multiyear military aid package for Ukraine that Stoltenberg had proposed.

In an opening address to the summit on July 9 marking NATO's 75th anniversary, Biden said Russia is seeking "nothing less" than to "wipe Ukraine off the map," but he forcefully insisted that Russian President Vladimir Putin will not prevail and announced that Washington and its allies will provide Ukraine with further weapons, including additional air-defense systems.

"Ukraine can and will stop Putin, especially with our full collective support. They have our full support," Biden said as he announced Western donations of additional Patriot missiles systems and interceptors to Ukraine.

The United States and partners intend to provide Ukraine with dozens of additional tactical air-defense systems in the coming months, Biden said. Ukraine will also receive hundreds of NASAMS interceptors over the next year, he added.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said late on July 9 that U.S. leaders must be "strong" and "uncompromising" in helping to defend his country's democracy against Putin's aggression.

"Strong decisions are needed and we are waiting for them,” Zelenskiy said during a discussion he headlined at the Reagan Institute in Washington.

White House national-security adviser Jake Sullivan also said on July 9 that the alliance will announce in the coming days a new NATO military command in Germany, led by a three-star general, to coordinate the training and equipping of Ukrainian troops. It will also station a senior NATO representative in Kyiv.

The summit takes place against the backdrop of U.S. political uncertainty and Russia's intensification of its bombing of Ukraine.

Outgoing NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, speaking just before Biden, said that should Russia be victorious in its full-scale invasion of Ukraine, it would embolden Iran, China, and North Korea and shape the global-security environment for decades to come.

"There are no risk-free options with an aggressive Russia as a neighbor," Stoltenberg said. "There are no risk-free options in a war. And remember, the biggest cost and the greatest risk will be if Russia wins in Ukraine. We cannot let that happen."

The summit also comes after one of the worst Russian air attacks on the country since the Kremlin launched the full-scale invasion in February 2022.

The barrage of missiles fired across Ukraine on July 8 struck several civilian facilities, including Kyiv's Okhmatdyt Children's Hospital, killing at least 43 people in total and injuring scores more in what Biden called a "horrific reminder of Russia's brutality."

Zelenskiy said at the Reagan Institute that Ukraine needs at least 128 F-16 fighter jets to be able to fend off Russia's overwhelming air power.

A senior NATO official, briefing reporters on condition of anonymity, said that despite dwindling resources, Russia would likely be able to maintain its war economy for three to four years.

However, the official added that the Kremlin lacked the munitions and troops to launch a major offensive against Ukraine in the near term.

Zelenskiy has also pressed since Russia launched its full-scale invasion for a pathway to Ukraine’s eventual membership in the alliance, which so far has been received coolly by some countries who say such a move is unthinkable while the war is under way.

However, the summit will not extend an invitation for Ukraine to join the alliance. Carpenter said there was still no consensus on the issue among the 32 allies.

Biden and Zelenskiy will meet on July 11 and be joined by the leaders of about two dozen other countries that have signed bilateral security agreements with Ukraine.

Biden last month signed a 10-year agreement that calls on the United States, among other things, to help bolster Ukraine's military-industrial complex through co-production and joint ventures with U.S. industry.

NATO unity on Ukraine, however, will be challenged at the summit by Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, whose pro-Russian views have irked the alliance.

Orban, who just took over the rotating presidency of the EU, flew to Moscow last week and then to China without informing the bloc ahead of time to discuss an end to the war with Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Defense spending by NATO members will be another hot topic at the summit. NATO members committed a decade ago to reach a defense spending target of at least 2 percent of gross national product by 2024. Stoltenberg said that 23 of the alliance's 32 members will meet that target this year.

Biden's performance at the summit will also be closely watched amid concerns about his age and ability to lead after a dismal showing in a debate with Republican rival Donald Trump as Americans prepare to vote in a presidential election on November 5.

A growing number of fellow Democrats have called for Biden to end his reelection campaign since the debate on June 26.

Biden's poor debate performance and the specter of another Trump presidency has many European allies worried.

By RFE/RL

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Leave a comment
  • Mamdouh Salameh on July 10 2024 said:
    Providing Ukraine with hundreds of billions of dollars worth of weapons and financial aid including stealing billions of dollars of accrued interests on Russia assets in the West like Western sanctions are proving a complete failure.

    The military and financial aid didn't stop Russia prevail in Ukraine as evidenced by inability of Ukraine to mount counteroffensives against Russia even with direct and indirect support from the United States and NATO.

    Also Western sanctions haven't stopped Russia becoming the world's fourth-largest economy with a GDP bigger than the GDP of all the EU countries and also Japan according to yesterday's latest data from the World Bank.

    The West would be well advised to cut its losses in Ukraine and negotiate a resolution of the Ukraine conflict with President Putin rather than widening the conflict into a devastating war.

    Dr Mamdouh G Salameh
    International Oil Economist
    Global Energy Expert

Leave a comment




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