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NATO defense chiefs to approve plan of regular aid to Ukraine

The deliveries are expected to become obligatory for all NATO member states except Hungary, Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said

BRUSSELS, June 13. /TASS/. During their two-day meeting in Brussels, NATO defense ministers are expected to tentatively approve the plan to give Ukraine annual military assistance worth $40 billion.

The deliveries are expected to become obligatory for all NATO member states except Hungary, Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told reporters ahead of the meeting.

The final approval to the initiative will be given by NATO leaders during their July 9-11 summit in Washington.

The ministers are also expected to address the situation in Ukraine, discuss their military plans aimed at deterring Russia, consider claims of Russia’s alleged involvement in acts of sabotage at NATO defense enterprises, hold a session of the NATO-Ukraine Council and of the alliance’s nuclear planning group.

NATO plan

Ministers are expected to approve a plan for NATO to lead the coordination of security assistance and training, "a key element for our package for Ukraine at the Washington Summit, along with a long-term financial commitment," Stoltenberg said in the run-up to the meeting.

He went on to say that the allies have provided 40 billion euro in military support to Ukraine each year. "We must maintain this level of support as a minimum, and for as long as it takes, to hasten the conclusion in Moscow that Russia cannot wait us out," the secretary general said.

Earlier, Stoltenberg said that arms supplies to Kiev will become obligatory for all NATO member states and will be coordinated by US Army Gen. Christopher Cavoli, commander of US European Command and Supreme Allied Commander Europe.

"At the same time we saw that the United States spent six months agreeing a supplemental for Ukraine. We also have seen that some of the promises that European Allies have made have not been delivered. And if we turn this into not voluntary contributions, but NATO commitments, of course it will become more robust, it will become more reliable," Stoltenberg told reporters.

At the same time, he confirmed that Hungary will not send lethal weapons or military instructors to Ukraine, but will continue its contributions to the NATO budget.

NATO structure in Lisbon

Stoltenberg also explained how military assistance to Ukraine will be coordinated.

"One of the things we are now looking into is for instance, what is taking place under something called SAG-U, Security Assistance Group for Ukraine, which is mainly based in Wiesbaden, which is actually a quite big organization helping to put together capability packages, different types of weapons or ammunition, with the associated spare parts, maintenance, sustainment and also coordinate a lot of the training," he said.

"This is now led by General Cavoli in his capacity as the US Commander in Europe. In the future, it will also be led by General Cavoli, but then in his capacity as the NATO Commander in Europe, the SACEUR," the NATO official added.

Ukraine’s membership

In Stoltenberg’s opinion, the plan will bring Kiev closer to NATO membership. However, he said Ukraine must defeat Russia first.

"And without that, of course, there is no membership issue to be discussed. We need to ensure that Ukraine prevail that's an absolute minimum for Ukraine to become a member of the alliance," he said.

Nuclear weapons

Stoltenberg said the upcoming ministerial will also include a meeting of the Nuclear Planning Group, "where Allies will discuss the ongoing adaptation of nuclear capabilities to the current security environment."

"We have made significant progress in this adaptation: in June, the first F-35 fighter jets were declared ready by the Netherlands for NATO’s nuclear mission. And the US is modernizing its nuclear weapons in Europe," he said.

"We are speaking about NATO's nuclear sharing arrangements which have been well known for many, many years. There is not a new policy. This is a well-established procedure, where the US has nuclear bombs deployed in Europe, and where some allies take part in what we call a cold nuclear sharing, having planes that can deliver these weapons," he said. "So this is not new. This is something that has been there for many, many years."

The program involves five non-nuclear NATO countries - Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Turkey. According to media leaks, each of the member states has 20 US-made tactical bombs. The US refused to remove its tactical weapons from Europe after the end of the Cold War.