NATO is developing a 10-year plan to rebuild Ukraine’s military and arms industry with a focus on shifting the country from using Soviet equipment to primarily using NATO weapons, Politico reported on Wednesday.
“We will be looking at defense planning requirements to get Ukraine fully interoperable with NATO,” a senior NATO official told Politico on the condition of anonymity. “It’s about shifting away from Soviet equipment … to NATO-compatible Western equipment.”
The first meeting between NATO and Ukraine on the plan is set to be held next week. NATO acquisition officials held a meeting this month to discuss ways to help Ukraine’s defense industry and how to ramp up their own arms production to replenish the stockpiles of weapons that have been sent to Ukraine. But the new effort will focus entirely on improving Ukraine’s defense industrial base.
“We’ll be looking at ways to try and rebuild Ukraine’s defense industry,” the NATO official said. The Politico report said that the effort could turn Ukraine into a NATO country “by default,” even if it isn’t technically a member of the military alliance.
Such close Ukrainian cooperation with NATO will be unacceptable for Russia, which has made clear one of its main motives for launching the invasion was Kyiv’s alignment with the military alliance. Working to turn Ukraine into a de facto NATO state will likely lead to an even further Russian escalation of the war. It will also solidify Moscow’s view that it is not just fighting against Ukraine but the US and NATO as well.
While planning to support Ukraine for the next decade, few NATO members besides Turkey and Hungary have been calling for a de-escalation in the war. The Washington Post reported Tuesday that US officials have ruled out the idea of pushing Ukraine to negotiate with Russia even though they don’t believe either side can win “outright.” The report came after Ukraine hardened its stance against negotiating with Moscow in response to Russia’s annexation of Ukrainian territories.