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NATO will provide Ukraine with a “bridge” to the alliance, hoping that this move will be enough to meet its needs

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NATO will offer Ukraine a new headquarters to manage its military aid at the upcoming NATO 75th anniversary summit in Washington, officials said, a reassurance of the alliance’s long-term commitment to Ukraine’s security and hailed as a “bridge” to Kiev’s eventual membership.

Ukrainian President Zelensky and some Central European countries had hoped that NATO would invite Ukraine to participate in the accession negotiations. The summit will be held from July 9 to 11.

NATO will announce an agreement to establish a mission in Germany to coordinate all types of aid to Ukraine over the long term, U.S. and NATO officials said, a move aimed at sending a strong signal of allied commitment to Kiev and Moscow, which hope the West will tire of supporting the war.

Because the operation will be conducted under the auspices of NATO, it could remain operational even if Donald J. Trump, a fierce critic of NATO and its aid to Ukraine, is elected president of the United States in November.

The Biden administration and NATO officials raised the idea in an effort to offer Kiev something substantial at the summit, even though they believe now is not the best time for Ukraine to join the alliance.

Not just because the country remains at war, NATO may be actively involved in the fighting. President Biden and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz have said Ukraine must make important reforms to reduce corruption and improve democracy and the rule of law.

Hopefully, this mission and the commitment it represents will satisfy Zelensky and make the summit go more smoothly than before. The last time was a year ago in Vilnius, Lithuaniahe made clear his dissatisfaction with Ukraine’s lack of a clear timetable for accession negotiations.

The new mission will bring under one umbrella the activities of the current “capability alliance” of countries that provide Ukraine with military assistance in areas including air defense, artillery, F-16 fighter jets, weapons and training.

The plan would also coordinate the training of Ukrainian military personnel in allied countries and their long-standing bilateral security agreements with Ukraine, according to U.S. and NATO officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because details of the plan have not yet been released.

But officials said NATO countries had agreed to the mission and that it would be announced at the summit.

Previously, aid to Ukraine had The plan is structured primarily on a country-by-country basis, with little concern for its efficiency or even for Kiev’s most pressing needs. Officials with knowledge of the plan said centralizing necessary assistance and training under one command was intended to streamline the process and make it more coherent.

The mission, called NATO Security Assistance and Training to Ukraine (NSATU), will work to reduce duplication and complexity in delivering a wide range of weapons to Ukraine.

One example, U.S. and NATO officials said, is France’s recent offer to donate an unspecified Mirage fighter number Ukraine is already struggling to train pilots and get F-16s flying. The Mirage jets are just as advanced but require different training, parts and maintenance, which could put a strain on Ukraine’s capabilities.

The mission will be based at a U.S. military facility in Wiesbaden, Germany, and led by a three-star general (likely to be American) reporting directly to Gen. Christopher Cavoli, the top NATO and U.S. general in Europe.

Ivo Daalder, a former U.S. ambassador to NATO who is aware of the plan, said placing the mission under General Cavoli’s NATO leadership would insulate it from any political changes in Washington.

The new mission will also absorb existing US forces stationed in Wiesbaden to be responsible for weapons transportation and personnel training.

The group will operate in parallel with the Ukraine Defense Liaison Group, a U.S.-led group that coordinates arms deliveries to Ukraine from about 50 countries, far beyond NATO’s 32 members. Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III, who formed the contact group, insisted that it remain under the U.S. chair for now, according to officials.

Daalder said the group would not be officially called a “mission” because of objections from Germany, which wants to avoid suggesting it and NATO are at war with Russia, even though Russia has described its invasion of Ukraine as a war of “self-defense” against an expanding and hostile NATO.

“It’s about guarding against Trump, but also about bringing Ukraine and NATO closer together in order to support Ukraine not only now but also in the future,” Daalder said.

The Biden administration has not yet publicly commented on the details of the plan. But US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said the summit would show that the allies are taking “concrete steps” to bring Ukraine closer to the EU and ensure it has a “bridge to eventual EU membership.” At last year’s NATO summit, NATO also refused to provide Ukraine with a fixed timetable and a clear path to accession, and refused to allow accession negotiations to begin. Zelensky was unhappy with this, but NATO’s overall position will not change at this summit.

NATO’s reluctance to start accession talks with Ukraine or set a fixed timetable for doing so stands in stark contrast to the European Union, which said on Tuesday that Accession negotiations begin There are relations with both Ukraine and Moldova.

The negotiations are expected to take years, but it is an important and symbolic moment for both countries – Ukraine is suffering from an invasion by Russia and Moldova fears it could be next.

Outgoing NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg spoke vaguely about plans for the new mission after a meeting of NATO defense ministers on June 14. Tell The announcement will be made at a press conference, with the Washington summit set to “lay an even stronger foundation for our support to Ukraine in the years ahead”.

He called the new mission “an important outcome of the summit” and another step on Ukraine’s path to joining NATO, stressing that “these efforts will not make NATO a party to the conflict, but will strengthen our support for Ukraine in maintaining its right to self-defense.”

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