NATO Foreign Ministers discuss further support for Ukraine with echoes of the long war in Afghanistan

A review of the informal meeting of NATO Ministers of Foreign Affairs 

Prague, 30-31 May 2024

This annual ‘informal’ meeting of foreign ministers, where they meet somewhere other than NATO headquarters in Brussels, is designed to allow ministers to speak more openly. In 2022 the met in Berlin, last year in Oslo, and in 2025 they will convene in Ankara. As expected, no formal decisions were taken, and instead views were exchanged at a dinner on 30 May and then at a working session the following day that lasted 3.5 hours. 

The forthcoming summit in Washington, D.C., on July 9–11 was the main topic of discussion, with three areas in particular up for discussion: strengthening deterrence and defence, long-term support to Ukraine, and NATO’s global partnerships, especially NATO’s deepening partnerships in the Indo-Pacific region. NATO prefers issues to be settled and agreed on, at least informally, before a summit to avoid any last-minute surprises for the heads of state when they meet.

Key takeaways from the meeting:

  • NATO Foreign Ministers agreed that providing support to Ukraine should remain a top priority as preparations continue for the Washington Summit in July. 
  • Final decisions will be taken at the summit, but “significant progress” was reportedly made in three areas: NATO taking a greater coordination role in providing equipment and training to Ukraine; the Secretary General’s proposed multi-year financial pledge for Ukraine; and Ukraine’s path to NATO membership.
  • Some NATO member states have lifted the restrictions attached to the use of certain weapons they supplied to allow Ukraine to use them to strike targets inside Russia. However, opinion within NATO remains divided on this this issue. 
  • Open-ended pledges by the NATO Secretary General to support to Ukraine “for as long as necessary” mirror similar pledges made during the 20-year Afghanistan war.

Read more in the attached pdf