EU reveals major update on weapons for Ukraine
The European Union will finance the purchase and delivery of weapons to Ukraine for the first time, European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen has announced.
“We are stepping up our support for Ukraine,” von der Leyen said on Sunday, announcing a raft of further measures against Moscow over its ongoing military offensive in Ukraine.
“For the first time, the EU will finance the purchase and delivery of weapons and equipment to a country under attack,” she said.
Before a meeting of EU foreign ministers on Sunday, foreign policy chief Josep Borrell declared that “another taboo has fallen, the taboo that the European Union was not providing arms in a war.”
An EU source told Reuters the bloc plans to spend $507 million (€450 million) on weapons for Ukraine, as well as an additional $56 million (€50 million) on “items such as medical supplies.”
Borrell said the move to arm Kiev was necessary as “we live in unprecedented times” and “this war requires our engagement in order to support the Ukrainian army.”
The EU is also levying sanctions against Belarus, banning imports of an array of products including mineral fuels, tobacco, wood, timber, cement, iron, and steel, with von der Leyen denouncing President Alexander Lukashenko as “the other aggressor in this war.”
Sweden, too, announced on Sunday it would violate its typical policy of not arming countries in active conflict, volunteering to send military equipment to Ukraine. In addition to 5,000 single-use anti-tank launchers, Stockholm will send 5,000 helmets, 5,000 pieces of body armor, and 135,000 field rations to the Ukrainian military, PM Magdalena Andersson revealed.
The EU also announced it would close its airspace to all Russian airlines and Russian-owned or controlled or registered aircraft, adding that it would also block Russian state-owned media. “We are developing tools to ban their toxic and harmful disinformation in Europe,” von der Leyen said.
Russian President Vladimir Putin launched a military attack on Ukraine on February 24, saying it was the only way to protect the newly-recognized Donbass republics and to ensure that Russia is not put under threat by NATO from Ukrainian territory.
Von der Leyen described the bloc’s decision to deliver weapons to Kiev as a “watershed moment” and said Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s government was “an inspiration to us all.” She promised to welcome “with open arms those Ukrainians who have to flee from Putin’s bombs.”