NATO chief says alliance will set up new command, establish financial pledges to support Ukraine

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NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said Sunday the alliance is expected to agree to a five-point plan to support Ukraine in the war against Russia, including shifting international support to a unified command and establishing pledges from nations to sustain military support to Kyiv for at least another year.

Stoltenberg told reporters during a roundtable in Washington, D.C., ahead of a major annual NATO summit in the U.S. capital this week, that the alliance will create a command post in Germany with 700 personnel and headed by a three-star NATO general.

The command will take over most of the international support for Ukraine, which is currently managed by a roughly 50-member alliance, the Ukraine Defense Contact Group. The base will also oversee training and logistics for Ukraine support.

NATO will also establish pledges among the 32-member alliance to sustain the level of current Ukraine support among allies for at least one more year. Stoltenberg said that allies will ultimately establish a minimum baseline of future financial support.

While the agreements fall short of including Ukraine into the alliance, as Kyiv has long asked for, Stoltenberg said both plans will move Ukraine closer to NATO membership.

“These are complete actions that actually move [Ukraine] closer to NATO, makes Ukraine ready for NATO,” he said. “I strongly believe that, of course, language matters, but as important, perhaps even more important, is what we do.”

The other parts of the agreement that NATO members are expected to agree to at the summit include announcements from allies of more weapons, including advanced systems, and deepening the Ukrainian military’s interoperability with NATO forces.

By the start of the summit, about 20 allies will also have signed bilateral security agreements with Ukraine. President Biden signed an agreement last month with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky committing to supporting Kyiv and its defenses over the next 10 years.

The NATO summit beginning Tuesday comes as Russian forces are applying pressure across the 600-mile front in Ukraine, which is fighting fiercely to defend against the advances.

The U.S. and NATO have argued that Ukraine will become a member of the alliance one day but have stopped short of establishing a concrete timeline for inclusion. Ratifying Ukraine into the alliance now during a major war would would technically trigger Article 5, which stipulates that countries must defend allies that are attacked.

Stoltenberg argued that allies have agreed on “ambitious” action to back Ukraine that will smooth over alliance support.

“These are agreed NATO commitments to deliver on something which is more accountable and more capable,” he said.

Stoltenberg also said that the summit will address issues with defense spending across the alliance, a thorny point as some nations have struggled to pay the 2 percent of economic output target.

The NATO chief said he expects there will be a message from the summit to do more on defense spending than the 2 percent target.

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