NATO Ministers Vow to Maintain Support for Ukraine

NATO Ministers Vow to Maintain Support for Ukraine
NATO Ministers Vow to Maintain Support for Ukraine

Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken and top Western diplomats vowed on Wednesday to sustain support for Ukraine and its bid to join NATO despite dwindling military supplies and competing crises.

Mr. Blinken’s remarks came at the tail end of a NATO ministerial meeting in Brussels, where he and other Western diplomats sought to assuage doubts about Western resolve to help Kyiv amid Russia’s full-scale invasion. A White House proposal to send Ukraine additional emergency aid has stalled in the Republican-led House, and the war in Gaza has consumed global attention.

“Some are questioning whether the United States and other NATO allies should continue to stand with Ukraine as we enter the second winter of Putin’s brutality,” Mr. Blinken said at a news conference in Brussels, referring to President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia. “But the answer here today at NATO is clear, and it’s unwavering. We must and we will continue to support ensuring that Russia’s war of aggression remains a strategic failure.”

He added that he expected that President Biden’s request for $61.4 billion in additional military and economic support for Ukraine would be approved by Congress.

“What I continue to see, what I continue to hear, is strong bipartisan support in both chambers of Congress for Ukraine,” Mr. Blinken said.

In a nod to growing complaints among Republicans that the United States is spending too much on Ukraine, Mr. Blinken echoed recent remarks from other American and European officials in noting that Washington does not provide most of the support currently going to Kyiv. The United States has given about $77 billion to Ukraine compared with more than $110 billion from European allies over the same period of time, he said.

In addition to pledging sustained support, diplomats in Brussels worked to clear a path for Ukraine’s eventual membership in NATO — which the alliance promised this year. Kyiv is not expected to be able to join NATO during the war, to avoid putting the alliance in direct conflict with Russia.

This week, diplomats drew up a list of reforms Kyiv should embrace before it gains full membership. Jens Stoltenberg, the NATO secretary general, said on Wednesday that some reforms were already underway but did not specify when they would need to be completed. For years, the United States and European allies have demanded that Ukraine crack down on government corruption and bolster human rights.

Mr. Stoltenberg said that Ukraine would also need modernize its military to NATO standards — the billions of dollars in weapons and training from Western allies since the war began has already helped — fight terrorism, and upgrade its intelligence systems.

“I’m actually impressed by Ukraine’s commitment to implement reforms, to modernize their society in the midst of a full-scale war,” Mr. Stoltenberg said. “It helps them to be a stronger country fighting Russia as an aggressor.”

But the effort to assure Ukraine during the NATO and European Union meetings this week in Brussels appeared “heavy on promises and light on strategy,” said Michael John Williams, a European policy expert at Syracuse University and the Atlantic Council.

“The E.U. isn’t suffering from Ukraine fatigue, but it lacks a concrete plan for the long haul,” Mr. Williams said. “Putin has put Russia on an industrial war footing, and he thinks he can wait Brussels and Washington out.”