Allies Mull Shifting Ukraine arms group to NATO to Safeguard from Trump

by | Apr 2, 2024

The possibility of transferring a U.S.-led multinational group to NATO is currently under consideration by the United States and other Western nations. The group is responsible for coordinating weapon shipments to Ukraine.

This potential move is seen as a strategic measure to ensure the continued supply of arms to Kyiv, particularly in the event of a second term for Donald Trump as President.

Officials are anticipated to discuss the gradual transition of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group into NATO's control during the NATO foreign ministerial meeting in Brussels on Wednesday and Thursday.

According to insights from three European officials and a U.S. official familiar with internal discussions, the objective is to complete this transition at the NATO leaders' summit scheduled for July in Washington.

According to one of the European officials, allies view the transition as a means to institutionalize the U.S.-led effort, providing other NATO member countries with a greater role in the process, particularly in the event of a potential reelection of Trump. All individuals mentioned were granted anonymity to freely discuss internal deliberations.

With the aim of coordinating Western assistance for Kyiv's defense efforts, the Ukraine group was established in the initial stages of the conflict by Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and then-Joint Chiefs Chair Gen. Mark Milley. In addition to NATO allies, the contact group comprises approximately 20 other like-minded countries from outside the Euro-Atlantic region. It is widely acknowledged for its role in expediting the delivery of tens of billions of dollars worth of equipment, weapons, and other aid to Ukraine.

Discussions regarding the potential transition of the group under NATO are occurring at high levels of authority, according to the U.S. official. The objective is to solidify European and alliance backing for Kyiv, with the consideration of making the group “more enduring” in light of upcoming U.S. and European elections.

Defense Department spokesperson Maj. Charlie Dietz refrained from confirming the discussions, stating that the Department of Defense had “no new announcements to make regarding the format or structure” of the group.

Moving the group to NATO would represent a substantial step in solidifying Western backing for Ukraine's ongoing conflict, particularly in light of Europe's concerns regarding the potential reelection of Trump. With domestic politics in the U.S. and other nations already posing a threat to funding for sending additional weapons to Kyiv, this transfer underscores a commitment to sustaining support for Ukraine's war efforts in the foreseeable future.

If successful, this transition would mark the latest in a series of steps aimed at bolstering institutions in preparation for the possibility of another Trump administration. In late 2023, lawmakers passed legislation mandating congressional approval should a future president attempt to withdraw from NATO. Discussions are currently ongoing regarding potential additional protective measures to further ‘fortify’ specific institutions against potential disruptions.




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