Stoltenberg expects further commitments for Ukraine’s air defence

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg expects further commitments from the allies to strengthen Ukraine’s air defense against Russia. Concrete announcements are likely to be made “in the next few days or weeks,” Stoltenberg said on Thursday on the sidelines of a defense ministers’ meeting in Brussels. The allies are working hard to support Ukraine, the Norwegian stressed.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is demanding at least seven Patriot systems to be able to fend off Russian air attacks. Stoltenberg referred to Germany’s promise to provide another Patriot system, in addition to two already delivered. According to a media report, the USA wants to provide another.

US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin initially wanted to discuss further military aid with the allies in Brussels as part of the Ukraine contact group. Diplomats believe it will be difficult to get seven Patriots or comparable systems together in just under four weeks before the NATO summit in Washington.

The two-day defense ministers’ meeting is the last before the NATO summit. An agreement on a change in the coordination of aid to Ukraine is planned. With a view to a possible election victory by former President Donald Trump in November, Stoltenberg has proposed transferring responsibility to NATO and in particular to the European partners. This is intended to make aid to Ukraine “Trump-proof,” as diplomats said.

Hungary has so far opposed the plan. However, after a meeting with Prime Minister Viktor Orban in Budapest on Wednesday, Stoltenberg said that Hungary would no longer block it. In return, Orban obtained a promise that he would not have to provide military or financial aid to Ukraine. Orban is considered the closest ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin within the EU and NATO.