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NATO ministers mull 100 billion euro military fund for Ukraine

BRUSSELS, April 3 ------ NATO foreign ministers meet on Wednesday to discuss how to put military support for Ukraine on a long-term footing, including a proposal for a 100 billion euro ($107 billion) five-year fund and a plan seen as a way to "Trump-proof" aid for Kyiv. 


The proposals by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg would 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, diplomats say. The plans will be discussed during a two-day meeting in Brussels that will celebrate the 75th anniversary of the founding of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and prepare for a summit of alliance leaders in Washington in July. The meeting will provide insight into how far Ukraine's European allies are willing to go to support Kyiv's war effort as a military aid package for Ukraine worth some $60 billion remains stalled in the U.S. Congress.  


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. Until now, NATO as an organization 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. Some said that threats by Russian President Vladimir Putin that he would regard various steps taken by NATO allies as escalatory - such as providing tanks and other advanced weapons systems - had not led to retaliation against them. 


U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who will attend the Brussels meeting, said in Paris on Tuesday that NATO was looking at measures that could serve as the "necessary bridge" to membership of the alliance for Ukraine. 




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