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17 May, 2022 19:23

EU won’t let Ukraine run out of weapons – Borrell

Bloc's top diplomat has promised Kiev a never-ending supply
EU won’t let Ukraine run out of weapons – Borrell

“The European Union will not let Ukraine run out of [military] equipment,” its foreign policy chief Josep Borrell told reporters on Tuesday in Brussels following a meeting of the bloc's defense ministers. 

The diplomat theorized that Russia may have suffered “impressive losses” since attacking Ukraine, suggesting casualties of as many as 15% of its troops, but demurred when asked how long he felt the conflict might continue, stating “I wouldn’t dare to make an hypothesis about how long Russia can resist.” 

On Friday, Borrell announced another $526 million (€500 million) package of lethal aid to be sent to Kiev, bringing the total amount pledged to $2.11 billion (€2 billion). The money would buy heavy weapons such as tanks and artillery, he said, adding that he was also optimistic the bloc would eventually reach an elusive agreement on a Russian oil embargo. 

The promised measure failed to materialize on Monday as the EU devised its sixth package of anti-Russia sanctions. Hungary, said to be the last remaining holdout, has demanded hundreds of millions of dollars in compensation, having repeatedly argued that cutting itself off from Russian oil and gas would do significantly more harm to its own people than to Moscow. 

Following Russia’s attack on Ukraine, the EU took the unprecedented step of providing €450 million in lethal aid to Kiev, with several member states following suit. The bloc previously had a policy of not supplying weapons to countries involved in a conflict. In attempting to justify the decision, Borrell declared that “we live in unprecedented times,” arguing “this war requires our engagement in order to support the Ukrainian army.” While Ukraine is seeking to join both the EU and NATO, it is currently a member of neither alliance.

Earlier on Tuesday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov expressed doubt that Western states seek to benefit Ukraine: “Nobody cares about Ukraine. Ukraine is an ‘expendable material’ in the proxy war against Russia. There can be no doubts about it now. It has been voiced publicly.”

Russia attacked the neighboring state in late February, following Ukraine’s failure to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements, first signed in 2014, and Moscow’s eventual recognition of the Donbass republics of Donetsk and Lugansk. The German- and French-brokered Minsk Protocol was designed to give the breakaway regions special status within the Ukrainian state.

The Kremlin has since demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join the US-led NATO military bloc. Kiev insists the Russian offensive was completely unprovoked and has denied claims it was planning to retake the two republics by force.