The bloc’s foreign ministers agreed to give Kyiv nearly $550 million worth of arms
EU foreign ministers approved a new tranche of military aid to Ukraine on Monday, Swedish officials have said. The arms bonanza is worth $542 million, but does not include the German tanks that Kyiv and its allies are hoping for.
The bloc’s 27 foreign ministers agreed on the 500 million euro ($542 million) package after discussions in Brussels. Sweden, which holds the rotating presidency of the European Council, announced the agreement on Twitter, saying: “We remain steadfast in our support for the Ukrainian Armed Forces.”
Money for the weapons will be drawn from the European Peace Facility, a fund the bloc uses to finance foreign militaries. Ukraine has already received 3.1 billion euros ($3.36 billion) from this fund, with aid distributed in seven consecutive packages since the start of Russia’s military operation last February.
This supply of weapons to Ukraine represented a reversal from the EU’s long-standing policy of not buying weapons for use in foreign wars. Before last February, the “peace facility” had only been used to supply non-lethal equipment to Georgia, Mali, Moldova, Mozambique and Ukraine, for a total of less than $125 million.
So far, the United States has underwritten most of Ukraine’s spending, allocating more than $110 billion to the country’s economy and military since the conflict began, and supplying progressively heavier and more powerful weapons. Washington, however, is refusing to donate its M1 Abrams main battle tanks, leaving Ukrainian officials and their most ardent European supporters — mainly the Baltic and Eastern European states — to pressure Germany to fill that role.
Kyiv has repeatedly requested that Germany supply its military with Leopard 2 tanks and allow other European users of the Leopard to donate their fleets. Berlin has yet to make an official decision on sending its own Leopards, but Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said on Sunday that her government will not block Poland from sending its stockpile of tanks to Ukraine.
Russia has warned that Western arms deliveries will only prolong the conflict, while making Western countries de facto participants. Should Germany relent and send its tanks, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said earlier this week that they “can burn and they will burn like the rest [of the Western weapons].”