Stoltenberg: “We need more money, we need fresh money” for Ukraine

‘ We need more money, we need fresh money and we need it for many years” for, said his secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg at the State Department meeting today. Stoltenberg wants to convince the 32 NATO states to launch a 100 billion-euro aid package for Ukraine. This money is intended to give President Volodmir Zelenski’s Ukrainian government greater security of planning for its defence against Russia. The situation on the front is “a provocation,” Stoltenberg said Wednesday at the meeting of NATO foreign ministers in Brussels. Russian President Vladimir Putin achieves marginal profits with great commitment and estimates that Ukraine’s supporters will eventually exhaust their patience. The head of the transatlantic defence alliance therefore called for “more reliable and long-term” support for Kiev. Stoltenberg proposed a “strong NATO framework with financial commitments”. He didn’t comment on the details. According to diplomats, the proposal concerns 100 billion euros for five years. The money will be used to deliver weapons and financial aid. However, the amount is only an initial proposal and can be changed in the negotiations to follow. Stoltenberg prepares NATO for Trump’s second term At the same time, Stoltenberg also wants to officially put the so-called Contact Group for Ukraine under NATO administration. The U.S.-led group, consisting of approximately 50 Ukrainian supporters, was deliberately created outside NATO structures after the Russian invasion in 2022, in order not to give the impression that the Alliance is entering the war. Meanwhile, however, this separation no longer makes sense from the point of view of Stoltenberg. “It’s the same people,” he says. The Contact Group for Ukraine, also known as the Ramstein Group, meets at NATO headquarters under the leadership of the American commander in Europe, who is also NATO’s supreme commander. Both NATO funding and taking over the administration are intended to prepare the alliance for a possible change of government in Washington. There is great concern in Brussels that the US will reduce their spending on Ukraine after Donald Trump’s return to the White House, he is highlighted in a Handelsblatt report. Stoltenberg wants to prevent this and create stable NATO structures. However, at first it remained unclear exactly what the new financial instrument should be. To date, NATO has only had a small budget of a few billion euros for its own operations. One possibility would be to create a new fund that should be filled by the Member States according to the current type of NATO distribution. The US and Germany would then account for 16% of the total amount. Stoltenberg criticizes the blockade of aid to Ukraine in US Congress The principle is more important to Stoltenberg than the exact amount and structure. Ukraine’s support should not depend on short-term voluntary offers from individual states, he said. On the contrary, long-term NATO commitments are required. He cited as an example the recent $60 billion blockade for Ukraine in the U.S. Congress. A group of Trump supporters there wants to stop aid for Ukraine. Next week, the US Congress could make one last attempt to vote on the package – there is discussion about converting part of it into a loan. American military transport has largely stopped since late December, with the last regular dose of ammunition and weapons being sent to Kiev in late December. In March, the Pentagon arranged a single special package, but while Congress is deaf, “our hands are tied,” the White House warned Tuesday. Every delay has consequences on the battlefield, Stoltenberg said. “This is one of the reasons why Ukraine must measure its artillery ammunition.” Stoltenberg wants NATO leaders to approve the economic package at their Washington summit in July. All 32 states should agree. However, diplomats are cautious that an agreement will be reached so quickly. This is because the new demands for money from the EU and NATO always meet the resistance of the Member States. Just a few months ago, after long and difficult negotiations, EU Member States agreed to financial assistance of EUR 50 billion for Ukraine. The increase in the EU Special Fund for Arms Deliveries (EPF) was also highly controversial. Finally, Germany managed to ensure that bilateral aid could be offset against contributions. Similar discussions could be expected for a possible NATO vessel. Some foreign ministers welcomed the Stoltenberg initiative Wednesday. Latvian Foreign Minister Krisjanis Karins spoke of a “very good proposal”. Ukraine needs NATO’s “permanent assistance”. The SPD and the Greens welcome the proposal In Berlin, SPD and Green Members welcomed the idea of Stoltenberg. “This is particularly important in view of the future of American support and would massively reduce Ukraine’s weight in terms of operational planning”, the SPD expert on defence issues, Andreas Schwarz, told Handelsblatt. So far, coordination in the western world was ad hoc and not clearly strategically designed, Schwarz continued. “What Ukraine needs is less surprise aid and more reliable, strategic and regularly coordinated aid programmes with clear timetables.” The proposal offers this opportunity if it is implemented without bureaucracy. It would also give design safety to industry. Green Party expert on defence issues Sebastian Schäfer said a fundamental concern about funding Ukraine’s long-term support would also make sense at NATO level. “National exclusions with internal incentives, as we have seen with Ukraine’s support at EU level, must be prevented from the beginning. In particular, NATO’s European pillar must be placed more powerful in the medium term,” Scheffer told Handelsblatt.