21st Feb 2024

EU leaders pledge to double military support to Ukraine

  • EU leaders met in Versailles for two days to discuss next steps as Russia's unrelenting invasion of Ukraine puts the continent's security architecture at risk (Photo: Council of the European Union)
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EU leaders on Friday (11 March) pledged to double financing for military aid to Ukraine with a proposal for an extra €500m.

The bloc's 27 leaders also agreed to redouble efforts to decrease dependency on Russian energy resources, and they tasked the EU Commission to come up with a plan for the phase out.

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That plan should be forthcoming by mid-May and it would lay out how to diminish use of Russian gas, oil and coal by 2027, said EU commission president Ursula von der Leyen.

At the close of a two-day summit in Versailles, von der Leyen also said a fourth set of sanctions was being prepared against Russia. "We will be determined and forceful in our answer," she said.

In addition, von der Leyen reiterated her call for an inquiry into the Russian bombing this week of a maternity ward and children's hospital in Mariupol, which she has described as a possible war crime.

The summit was held against the background of the Ukrainian push for more weaponry for its battle with Russia, after Nato and Western nations rebuffed calls to impose a no-fly zone, on the grounds that could trigger a wider war.

German chancellor Olaf Scholz said after the meeting that there was the "possibility" of boost the EU's so-called peace facility, which already has been used to send lethal aid to Ukraine.

"On defence, I think everybody has agreed that things have changed since 24 February," Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas said after the summit.

The Italian prime minister, Mario Draghi, warned of the need to finance the "mammoth costs" tied to defence, climate and energy investments.

"We have to find a compromise on where to find the resources, because there is no room in the national budget," said Draghi, who favours joint EU borrowing.

"We need a European response."

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