NATO has a 10-year plan to rebuild Ukraine's army and defense industry, Politico has reported, and the first meeting between the alliance and the Ukrainian government to work toward realizing this goal is to be held next week. Moscow will only take this as further evidence the Western military alliance is intent on expanding its military infrastructure right up to its border.
"We will be looking at defense planning requirements to get Ukraine fully interoperable with NATO," an unnamed senior NATO official told Politico. "It’s about shifting away from Soviet equipment… to NATO-compatible Western equipment."
"We’ll be looking at ways to try and rebuild Ukraine’s defense industry," the NATO official added, though it remains that some Western defense officials are already intensely concerned over their own countries' depleting stockpiles.
This week in yet another plea for funding, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said his country needs no less than $38 billion to cover the budge deficit for next wear. Already the US alone has since the Russian invasion began given Ukraine over $15 billion in direct military assistance.
Crucially, the Politico report observes that "10-year plan" would see Ukraine become part of NATO by default:
The wider effort of looking beyond the day-to-day battlefield needs of the Ukrainian military will require years of attention from partners stretching from Warsaw to Ottawa, an effort that could eventually transform Ukraine into a NATO country by default, even if it is not a member of the alliance.
But some observers have noted the growing proxy war nature of the conflict, along with recent admissions of US and allied intelligence and special forces being on the ground assisting Ukrainian partners - all of which has served to make Ukraine a de facto NATO outpost in the first place. This is of course what Russia has feared from the beginning.
In NATO meetings among defense ministers this week, the US and others repeated a commitment to support Ukraine militarily "for as long as it takes".
Detailing these meetings, Politico wrote, "Those allies met in Brussels on Wednesday in the sixth meeting of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group, a collection of 50 nations committed to arming and supplying Ukrainian forces. The Russian missile strikes on civilian targets over the past several days that have killed dozens of civilians have led to a rethinking of that aid, pushing air defense to the top of the Ukrainian wish list." Of course, this wish list continues to grow ever longer.