NATO foreign ministers to discuss proposed military fund for Ukraine

STATE DEPARTMENT — NATO foreign ministers meeting Wednesday in Brussels are expected to discuss a proposal to create a $100 billion fund for supporting Ukraine’s military.

The plan, put forward by NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, also includes making NATO more directly involved in coordinating military assistance being provided by member countries, a role that has been filled by a U.S.-led coalition of more than 50 countries.

A final decision on the proposal would not come until NATO heads of state meet at a summit in July.

Ahead of the Brussels talks, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken renewed calls for the U.S. Congress to release military aid for Ukraine.

“We are at a critical moment where it is absolutely essential to get Ukrainians what they continue to need to defend themselves, particularly when it comes to munitions and air defenses,” Blinken said Tuesday during a visit to a defense facility in Paris with French Defense Minister Sébastien Lecornu.

Congress is yet to approve the Biden administration’s supplementary budget request that would provide aid to resupply Ukraine’s armed forces and help the country fend off Russian offensives.

Biden has called on the Republican-led U.S. House of Representatives to approve the military and financial aid package. House Republicans have delayed action on it for months, prioritizing domestic issues.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has warned that Ukrainian forces will have to retreat “step by step, in small steps,” if Kyiv doesn’t receive the U.S. military aid.

French Foreign Minister Séjourné was in Beijing earlier this week. He said after a meeting with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi that France expects China to convey “clear messages” to its close partner Russia regarding Moscow’s actions in Ukraine.

France and China have sought to strengthen ties in recent years. Chinese President Xi Jinping is planning a visit to France in May.

During meetings in Paris in February, Wang told French President Macron that Beijing appreciated his country’s “independent” stance. But Paris has also sought to press Beijing on its close ties with Moscow, which have only grown closer since the 2022 invasion of Ukraine.

U.S. and French officials said they are working closely to effectively prevent the transfer of weapons and materials to Russia from North Korea and China, which could fuel Moscow’s defense industrial base.

Some information for this report came from Agence France-Presse and Reuters.

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