BRUSSELS: European Union foreign ministers met today to discuss their support for Ukraine, including a proposal to spend up to €20 billion on weapons, ammunition, and other military aid over four years.
The proposal, by EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, is part of an effort to put European support for Kyiv on a longer-term footing, after more than a year of scrambling to respond to Ukraine’s immediate needs following Russia’s invasion.
The move would also be part of an international drive to give Ukraine long-term security assurances, as announced by members of the G7 bloc of wealthy nations on the sidelines of last week’s Nato military alliance summit in Vilnius.
“We’ll discuss how to continue supporting Ukraine in the long run,” Borrell said on arrival at the meeting in Brussels.
“I presented a plan in order to ensure financial support for Ukraine in the next years, which will amount to quite an important amount of money. I hope the ministers will support it,” he told reporters.
Borrell declined to provide figures before the meeting. But diplomats and officials said his proposal – first reported by Politico – is to add up to €5 billion a year for Ukraine into an EU-run fund named the European Peace Facility (EPF).
The Peace Facility has already allocated more than €5 billion in support of Ukraine since February last year.
The proposed extra funding would cover 2024 to 2027.
The Peace Facility is used to reimburse EU countries for at least part of the cost of weapons, ammunition, and other military aid that they give to nations outside the bloc.
Borrell raised the prospect of a new cash pot for Kyiv last month and said it could be called the Ukraine Defence Fund.
The EU’s decision last year to bankroll arms supplies to a country at war was a landmark moment for the 27-member bloc, which for decades concentrated on economic and political cooperation and avoided involvement in armed conflicts.
But discussions on the new proposal are unlikely to be straightforward.
Hungary is holding up the disbursement of €500 million in current EPF funds for Ukraine aid, demanding that Hungarian bank OTP first be removed from a Ukrainian blacklist.
Borrell’s proposal is among several items on the agenda of today’s meeting of EU foreign ministers, whose governments would have to provide the money for the big funding boost.
Diplomats said they expect EU governments to consider the plan alongside a proposal from the European Commission, the bloc’s executive, to provide €50 billion in economic aid to Ukraine over the same four-year period.
“It’s not enough to simply put sums of money on the table,” German foreign minister Annalena Baerbock told reporters.
“It has to be logically and sensibly interlinked and that’s what we’re talking about today, but we will also be talking about it in the months to come.”
Ministers are expected to have only an initial discussion today and then return to the issue in more depth at a meeting in Spain at the end of August, officials and diplomats said.