NATO ministers discuss 100 billion euro military fund for Ukraine

By Andrew Gray and John Irish

BRUSSELS (Reuters) -A proposal by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg for a 100 billion euro ($107 billion) five-year fund for Ukraine drew mixed responses from member states on Wednesday.

The proposal to put military support for Ukraine on a long-term footing would also give the Western alliance a more direct role in coordinating the supply of arms, ammunition and equipment to Ukraine as it fights Russia's invasion.

Under the plans, NATO would take over some coordination work from a U.S.-led ad-hoc coalition known as the Ramstein group - a move designed in part to guard against any cut in U.S. support if Donald Trump returns to the White House, diplomats said.

"We need to shift the dynamics of our support," Stoltenberg said as he arrived at a meeting of NATO foreign ministers in Brussels.

"We must ensure reliable and predictable security assistance to Ukraine for the long haul, so that we rely less on voluntary contributions and more on NATO commitments. Less on short-term offers and more on multi-year pledges."

He declined to confirm the 100-billion euro figure, which was leaked by several diplomats, but said the aim was for a decision to be taken at a NATO summit in July.

Until now, NATO as an organisation has focused on non-lethal aid for Ukraine out of fears that a more direct role could trigger an escalation of tensions with Russia. Its members have provided billions of dollars in arms on a bilateral basis.

Diplomats said there was a growing view within NATO that it was time to put military aid to Ukraine on a more sustainable footing and NATO was best placed to do that.

But they said it was unclear whether the 100 billion euro figure would be accepted or how it would be financed. NATO decisions require consensus among its 32 members.

SCEPTICISM, SUPPORT

Initial reactions from across the alliance signalled a decision may not be easy.

Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto "firmly stated Hungary will not back any @NATO proposals that might draw the alliance closer to war or shift it from a defensive to an offensive coalition," government spokesman Zoltan Kovacs said on X.

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock described the plan as "right and important". Latvian Foreign Minister Krisjanis Karins also welcomed it, suggesting contributions could be a percentage of each member's GDP.

Other ministers said they needed to look at the details, including how it would be funded.

Privately, some officials were more blunt. "NATO has no budget or ways to raise such money," one diplomat said.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba called for fresh funding commitments, not simply the repurposing of existing pledges.

Meanwhile, Russia said NATO had returned to a Cold War mindset as the alliance marks its 75th anniversary this week.

NATO has said Ukraine cannot join while it is at war with Russia but that it will become a member at some point.

($1 = 0.9288 euros)

(Additional reporting by Benoit Van Overstraeten, Nette Nostlinger, Geert De Clercq, Andreas Rinke and Inti Landauro; Writing by Andrew Gray and Ingrid Melander; Editing by Stephen Coates, Gareth Jones and Ros Russell)

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