31st May 2023

EU starts talks on 11th round of Russia sanctions

  • Estonian foreign minister Urmas Reinsalu (l) and defence minister Hanno Pevkur in Brussels on Monday (Photo:
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Ukraine will need even more ammunition in future and the EU should already start drawing up its 11th round of Russia sanctions, hawkish EU countries have said.

"In order to go on the offensive, Ukraine needs more than one million shells a year. This is a good first step, but it's not enough," Estonian foreign minister Urmas Reinsalu said in Brussels on Monday (20 March).

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He spoke as EU foreign and defence ministers agreed to ship Ukraine one million 155-mm shells over the next 12 months, half of them from existing stockpiles and the rest to be bought using money from a joint, €8bn fund called the European Peace Facility (EPF).

Estonia first proposed the EPF joint-ammunition buying scheme a few weeks ago.

It's military-procurement branch, the Estonian Centre for Defence Investments, is also being put in charge of delivering €40m of new EU kit to Moldova's army.

And it is pioneering legal studies for EU countries to seize frozen Russian money to pay for Ukraine reconstruction after the war.

But Reinsalu didn't stop there, saying on Monday the EU should start drafting its next round of sanctions on Russia as well.

These should include more Russian oligarchs and "secondary sanctions" against people helping the Kremlin to circumvent existing EU measures, he said.

They should include more relatives of Russian VIPs, Finnish foreign minister Pekka Haavisto said.

New sanctions should include Moldovan oligarchs helping Russia to destabilise the EU candidate country, Estonia, France, and Romania also said.

And they should include Russian nuclear firm Rosatom, Lithuania added.

The Rosatom sanctions could include board members and new contracts, Lithuania's Gabrielius Landsbergis said, leaving Rosatom free to finish up ongoing projects in Bulgaria and Hungary.

The ammunition-buying deal came after Ukraine foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba briefed Monday's meeting by video call.

"Look, we need ammunition and we need it now," EU foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell paraphrased Kuleba as having said.

Russia is currently firing some 50,000 rounds a day while Ukraine is limited to 7,000 due to stocks, according to EU estimates.

It needs to be firing some 350,000 a month to push the Russians back, EU estimates also say.

The first tranche of EU deliveries are to come from existing EU countries' stockpiles, but Austria, Ireland, and Malta are not taking part due to their neutral status.

Some 20 EU capitals have also signed up to jointly buy ammunition via the European Defence Agency (EDA) in Brussels, transforming what had been an EU defence think-tank into an executive office.

"This will put the EDA into orbit," Borrell said.

Monday's decision is to be enshrined in an EU leaders' statement at a summit later this week.

"The European Council welcomes the agreement in the council to facilitate the immediate provision of ammunition for Ukraine," leaders aim to say, according to draft conclusions dated 20 March.

"The European Union remains committed to maintaining and increasing collective pressure on Russia, including through possible further restrictive measures," they add.

Europe will provide financial and military support to Ukraine for "as long as it takes," they also say.

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