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10 Mar, 2023 13:30

EU has almost exhausted options to punish Russia – Borrell

The bloc needs to shift its attention to financial and military support for Ukraine, its top diplomat said
EU has almost exhausted options to punish Russia – Borrell

The EU has limited options remaining for new sanctions it can impose on Russia, the bloc’s foreign affairs chief, Josep Borrell, admitted in an interview with Euractiv on Friday. He argued that the EU should instead seek other ways to support Ukraine. 

“There is not much more to do from the point of view of sanctions, but we can continue to increase financial and military support,” Borrell told the outlet following a meeting of EU defense ministers. 

He claimed that one year after Russia launched its military campaign in Ukraine, it would be “strange” if the EU still had significant options left. “We have been using our step-by-step process, and we have been incremental – maybe sometimes too incremental,” Borrell stated. 

The EU has unveiled 10 sanctions packages against Moscow since it launched its offensive against Ukraine in late February last year. Borrell acknowledged that the bloc was “getting to the end of the ladder,” and instead suggested focusing on support for Kiev.  

“Ukraine needs a lot of money just to keep the machinery working, a state at war has a lot of financial needs – this will require a lot of effort from our side – so sanctions and military support are not everything,” Borrell insisted, also claiming that it was Europe’s responsibility to support Kiev by providing arms and ammunition. 

In the same interview, Borrell proposed converting the bloc’s financial capacity into military capabilities, in a bid to affect the front line and boost training for Ukrainian soldiers. He has previously suggested reimbursing €1 billion ($1.06 billion) to EU member states for providing Kiev with ammunition. 

Borrell’s comments come after EU defense ministers agreed on Wednesday to speed up the supply of 155-millimeter ammunition to Ukraine. Asked if the initiative could extend to heavy weaponry, the diplomat said the EU “could be equally fast for other needs.” 

Moscow has repeatedly warned against Western arms deliveries to Ukraine, arguing that it only serves to prolong the bloodshed and will ultimately fail to change the outcome of Russia’s military operation.