NATO’s Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg is in Washington, D.C. this week in an effort to convince conservative lawmakers and former President Donald Trump’s allies to approve $60 billion in funding for Ukraine.
Stoltenberg met with Congressional leaders from both sides of the aisle on Tuesday, and is set to give a speech Wednesday to the Heritage Foundation, a Trump-aligned conservative think tank that has previously lobbied against Ukraine aid.
“I’m confident that all NATO Allies, also the United States, will continue to provide support to Ukraine,” Stoltenberg said in a press conference Monday. “It will be a tragedy for Ukrainians if President Putin wins, but it will also make the world more dangerous.”
NATO faces Republican skepticism about Ukraine aid and the alliance itself
The NATO chief may struggle to get much traction for Ukraine aid among Republicans, who remain divided over a deal that would trade stricter border policies for $106 billion in aid for Israel and Ukraine. The text of the deal is expected as early as next week, Politico reported, setting up a struggle between Senate Republicans who largely support the bipartisan package and a Trump-backed conservative faction in the House that is seeking to torpedo it. House Speaker Mike Johnson told Baltic lawmakers Tuesday that the package would likely have to be split up in another sign that he believes the deal would be “dead on arrival in the House,” Semafor reported. French President Emmanuel Macron said that Europe must “organize itself” to avoid the impact on the ground in Ukraine if U.S. aid were to stop. The GOP may cause more headaches for Stoltenberg and NATO, as European officials fear that a re-elected Trump may seek to pull the U.S. out of the alliance. Trump reportedly told European leaders during his presidency that the U.S. would “never come help” if Europe was attacked.
NATO prepares for ‘technocratic’ Washington summit in July
Jens Stoltenberg is also gearing up for a NATO summit this summer in Washington, D.C., which could be his last, as the longest-reigning leader of the alliance prepares to leave the post in October. While the summit will herald NATO’s 75th anniversary, it currently “promises to be a technocratic affair that does little to alter the status quo,” analysts at the Center for Strategic and International Studies wrote, noting that “implementation” was the buzzword du jour among NATO officials.
At the last Washington summit in 1999, NATO welcomed the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Poland. This year, Ukraine looks less likely to get a warm welcome from the alliance. “It’s not clear whether we will see such an invitation in Washington. I think we have to acknowledge that there’s a debate going on in many NATO member states,” a NATO official told LRT, a Lithuanian news outlet. While Ukraine’s Eastern European allies are pushing for Kyiv to get its NATO membership invite at the summit, they face opposition from the U.S. and Germany, who believe it is too soon to grant Ukraine membership while the country is at war, Foreign Policy reported.