NATO may take Ramstein format under its wing to protect it from Trump – Politico

Wednesday, 3 April 2024

The United States and other Western countries are considering handing over the Ukraine Defence Contact Group to NATO, which is one of several new proposals that could help keep arms flowing to Kyiv if Donald Trump returns to the White House. 

As reported by Politico, during a meeting of NATO foreign ministers in Brussels on Wednesday and Thursday (3-4 April), officials are expected to discuss a number of options, including the gradual transfer of the Contact Group on Ukraine's defence to NATO control. One official with knowledge of the internal negotiations said that the goal is to complete the process by the NATO leaders' summit in Washington in July. 

A second U.S. official said that another proposal is to give NATO a more formalised seat at the table within Ramstein, as opposed to placing it under Alliance control. The idea on the US side is to strengthen the ties between NATO and Ukraine with a view to providing long-term support, the official said. 

Discussions about NATO's involvement in the Ramstein format are taking place "at very senior levels" to formalise European and allied support for Kyiv, the US official said, adding that one of the considerations ahead of the US and European elections is to make the group "more enduring." 

US Defense Department spokesman Major Charlie Dietz declined to confirm the discussions, saying the Defense Department had "no new announcements to make regarding the format or structure" of the group. 

"We are constantly discussing how we can ensure that our support for Ukraine is sustained and how we can organise the support in the best possible way," Dietz said. 

Moving the group to NATO would be a significant step towards cementing Western support for the war in Ukraine for the foreseeable future amid European concerns that Trump might return to the White House. 

Experts note that formalising the Contact Group within NATO would largely protect support for Ukraine from changes in the US and other Western governments – and especially from Trump. 

"There’s a feeling among, not the whole group but a part of the NATO group, that thinks it is better to institutionalise the process just in case of a Trump re-election," said Jim Townsend, a former Pentagon and NATO official.

"Pulling this under NATO kind of isolates it from a Trump presidency, or even from a U.S. that might get distracted by China and can’t keep it going or can’t get his own funding act together," he added. 

If successful, the move will be the latest in a series of measures aimed at supporting the institutions ahead of the next Trump presidency. Late last year, lawmakers approved a law requiring congressional approval if a future president attempts to withdraw from NATO and are considering further protections. 

As reported, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg is proposing to establish a US$100 billion fund of allied contributions for Ukraine over five years as part of a package that alliance leaders will approve when they meet in Washington in July. 

As European Pravda has learned, discussions on the creation of a new multi-year fund to support Ukraine within the North Atlantic Alliance are expected to continue until the NATO summit.

If you notice an error, select the required text and press Ctrl + Enter to report it to the editors.