Thursday

19th Oct 2017

EU countries to boost defence budgets in light of Ukraine

Military chiefs have said the Ukraine crisis is a “wake-up call” for EU countries’ defence spending, as the US backed Ukraine’s use of force in eastern regions.

Speaking to press after a regular meeting of EU defence ministers in Luxembourg on Tuesday (15 April), the deputy chief of the EU’s external action service, Maciej Popowski, said: “We’ve had 70 years of peace now [in Europe], but we see that power politics is back with a vengeance, so it’s a wake-up call and now we need to get serious about defence.”

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

  • Recent data from Sipri, a Swedish think tank, says Russia many EU states are continuing to cut defence costs (Photo: Defence Images)

He noted that “this was the feeling around the table” at the Luxembourg event.

He added that EU foreign relations chief Catherine Ashton told the ministers: “If Ukraine is not a trigger to get serious about spending, about pooling and sharing, about smart defence, then what more do we need to get real?”

Nato secretary general Anders Fogh Rasmussen, who attended the debate, told press: "We need to train and exercise more together, for instance the Nato Response Force and the EU battlegroups, so that we stand ready for whatever the future may bring.”

The EU discussion comes after member states last December pledged to co-operate more strongly on defence, but with few concrete results so far.

Tuesday’s meeting saw the ministers decide to prolong for two years a military training mission in Mali and to launch a new police-training mission alongside the military project.

But Popowski noted that EU countries are dragging their heels in terms of committing vital assets to a peacekeeping mission in the Central African Republic in what he called a problem for “EU credibility”.

The debate came as Ukrainian forces launched what they called “anti-terror” operations against heavily-armed pro-Russian separatists - some of whom are suspected to be Russian soldiers in disguise - in eastern Ukraine.

Russian leader Vladimir Putin said the action means Ukraine “is on the brink of civil war".

He has massed elite troops on the Ukrainian border and pledged to defend Russian-speakers in the country by invading the Ukrainian mainland if need be. But his foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, noted on Wednesday that high-level talks between the EU, Russia, Ukraine and the US due in Geneva on Thursday can still go ahead despite Ukraine's counter-measures.

Popowski underlined that neither EU countries nor Nato forces will help Ukraine if it clashes with the Russian army. “Neither at Nato nor in the EU was there a discussion of military intervention,” he said.

But the US has put its naval vessels in the Black Sea on high alert, in part due to an incident earlier this week in which an unarmed Russian military jet repeatedly flew close to one of it ships.

State department spokeswoman Jen Psaki told media in Washington: “We are certainly calling for de-escalation. But the [Ukrainian] government is overseeing all parts of Ukraine, and they have a responsibility to take steps needed to maintain calm in their country.”

“[That] is hardly a civil war. That is maintaining peace and calm in their own country,” she added in response to Putin’s statement.

Like Popowski, she noted: “We’re not actively considering military assistance [to Ukraine].”

But she said the US and the EU are ready to impose further sanctions on Russia if Thursday’s talks fail to see Russia take a constructive approach.

“Well, we certainly would encourage them [Russia] – would discourage them from having a reaction. The Ukrainian government is maintaining – taking steps to maintain peace and order in their own country. So it’s hard to see what the explanation would be for Russian action there,” she said.

EU to expand Russia blacklist

EU countries are to expand their Russia and Ukraine blacklists and to send a small team of security experts to Kiev.

Focus

EU elections may strengthen Putin in Europe

Far-right parties are set to do well in next month’s elections to the European Parliament, a fact that has thrown a spotlight on their links with the Kremlin.

News in Brief

  1. EU summit moved to previous building after fumes scare
  2. Catalonia will 'not back down'
  3. New toxic incident in EU building ahead of summit
  4. Murdered Malta journalist's family invited to Parliament
  5. EU food safety chief denies keeping studies 'secret'
  6. EU states pledge 24,000 resettlement places so far
  7. US ready for arms sale to update Greece's F-16 fleet
  8. Austria's Green leaders step down following election failure

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EU2017EENorth Korea Leaves Europe No Choice, Says Estonian Foreign Minister Sven Mikser
  2. Mission of China to the EUZhang Ming Appointed New Ambassador of the Mission of China to the EU
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsEU Should Seek Concrete Commitments From Azerbaijan at Human Rights Dialogue
  4. European Jewish CongressEJC Calls for New Austrian Government to Exclude Extremist Freedom Party
  5. CES - Silicones EuropeIn Healthcare, Silicones Are the Frontrunner. And That's a Good Thing!
  6. EU2017EEEuropean Space Week 2017 in Tallinn from November 3-9. Register Now!
  7. European Entrepreneurs CEA-PMEMobiliseSME Exchange Programme Open Doors for 400 Companies Across Europe
  8. CECEE-Privacy Regulation – Hands off M2M Communication!
  9. ILGA-EuropeHealth4LGBTI: Reducing Health Inequalities Experienced by LGBTI People
  10. EU2017EEEHealth: A Tool for More Equal Health
  11. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Tourism a Key Driver for Job Creation and Enhanced Competitiveness
  12. CECENon-Harmonised Homologation of Mobile Machinery Costs € 90 Million per Year

Latest News

  1. EU okays Privacy Shield's first year
  2. EU seeks to decrypt messages in new anti-terror plan
  3. EU agencies defend research ahead of glyphosate vote
  4. Spain points at elections as exit to Catalan crisis
  5. How EU can ensure Daphne Caruana Galizia's legacy survives
  6. Juncker dinner to warm up relations with eastern EU
  7. Court hearing in MEPs 'private' expenses battle
  8. The unbearable lightness of leadership