NATO defence ministers to formalise long-term support for Ukraine

by IANS |

Brussels, June 14 (IANS/DPA) NATO defence ministers will meet in Brussels on Friday for their second consecutive day of talks on formalising the alliance's support for Ukraine.

NATO countries have been coordinating support to Ukraine through an informal, US-led group called the Ukraine Defence Contact Group. But now NATO countries are discussing ways to shift that responsibility to the formal structures of NATO.

On Friday, ministers are expected to give the nod to a plan for a mission called NATO Security Assistance and Training for Ukraine (NSATU) - which was already approved at a lower level on Thursday, alliance sources told dpa.

NSATU would see NATO officially coordinate military aid to Ukraine for the first time.

In addition, "we will address how to further strengthen our deterrence on defence," NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told reporters on Thursday.

"Ministers will discuss a new defence industrial pledge to scale up military production and solidify long-term cooperation with our industry."

The meeting on Friday is the last meeting of NATO ministers before a leaders' summit due to be held in Washington in July.

There, Stoltenberg wants NATO countries to agree on a plan to maintain long-term their current level of support to Ukraine, which he puts at $43 billion per year. The burden would be divided up according to NATO countries' GDP, with the US contributing 50 per cent, Stoltenberg said on Thursday.

The current agreement on NSATU does not include any specific financial commitments but establishes that joint aid will at least be coordinated by NATO proper.

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