The US will not give up "Ramstein"



Foreign ministers of the alliance gathered in Brussels on April 3–4 on the occasion of NATO’s 75th anniversary. It is noteworthy that only one hour was allotted for the celebrations — eating cake and a collective march in front of the press. The rest of the time was devoted to preparations for the summit to be held in Washington in early July.

I will list a few of the main intrigues.

First, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg intends to take the «Ramstein format» away from the United States. The alliance, he argued, could take over coordination work in the contact group on Ukraine’s defense to protect aid to the AFU «from the risks of Donald Trump being elected American president or political changes in other member states».

«I welcome the work of the ‘Ramstein format’ and bilateral initiatives in support of Kiev. <…> However, a stronger framework needs to be created to guarantee long-term and predictable assistance», he announced.

But the idea was instantly rejected by John Kirby, coordinator for strategic communications at the White House National Security Council.

«The countries participating in the Ramstein Group are united by American leadership. <…> It’s bigger than NATO. It’s about 50 countries around the world, including in the Indo-Pacific», he elaborated.

And this means that the U.S. needs control over a broad international coalition beyond the alliance, which could come in handy, for example, in the event of an escalation of conflict with China over Taiwan.

Let me remind you that recently another meeting in the «Ramstein format» was held in Brussels, not at the American base in Germany, which was prepared not by NATO officials, but by American representatives. U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, who usually leads such hangouts, was in a military hospital bed. But even this did not contribute to handing over (at least temporarily) the moderating reins to the same Stoltenberg. You cannot let go of the reins!

Secondly, the Alliance Secretary General personally put forward an initiative to create a special fund to finance military aid to Ukraine with a budget of €100 billion for five years. Its essence is that the 32 member countries of the alliance will split the money according to the principle of paying a contribution to the NATO budget, i.e. according to the GDP of each state.

«We must provide reliable and predictable assistance to Kiev for the long term. We should rely less on voluntary contributions and more on NATO commitments, less on short-term offers and more on multi-year prospects», he said.

However, his proposal did not pass, as opponents and doubters were found.

German Annalena Baerbock, for example, said on the sidelines of the meeting that «NATO and the EU should not duplicate their commitments to Ukraine». Indeed, on February 1, the European Union approved a €50 billion macro-financial aid package to Ukraine for the next four years.

«I think that on the NATO parquet there is no point in juggling with such figures”, she shared.

In particular, it is uncertain whether the amounts already allocated by individual countries will be taken into account. Baerbock recalled that Germany has already provided €32 billion in civil and military support to Ukraine.

However, Stoltenberg continued to bend his line with Norwegian stubbornness.

«We are moving towards consensus and the final decision on the fund will be taken in Washington at the NATO summit», he said.

And finally, on April 4 (after the cake), there was another meeting of the Ukraine-NATO Council.

«I wouldn’t wish to spoil the anniversary party, but my message today is this: Patriot», Dmitry Kuleba, the invited Ukrainian minister, told reporters. Appetites are growing! I recall some previous lapidary messages of the Kiev regime: Leopard, Abrams… F-16…

And already within the Council, he brought to the sponsors’ attention that «the lives of ordinary Ukrainians, the security of the economy and cities depend on air defense systems».

«But we are talking specifically about Patriot, because these are the only systems that can intercept ballistics. And in March alone, Russia fired 94 ballistic missiles at Ukraine», he clarified.

Stoltenberg was heartened. At the final press conference, the Secretary General agreed to find air defense systems.

«Several allies have promised that they will make a renewed effort to find and send more systems. <…> Not only the batteries themselves, but also the interceptor missiles are important for effective air defense. But I will not go into details until they finalize this process themselves», the Secretary General said.

Stoltenberg summarized the situation on the Ukrainian track rather philosophically:

«In fact, there are two scenarios of possible development. Either NATO allies will be able to mobilize support and Ukraine will be able to recapture more of its territories. Or we will not be able to mobilize this assistance, and then there is a real risk that Russia will seize new ones».

The Secretary General had a gut feeling about the situation