EU won’t let Ukraine run out of weapons – top diplomat
European Union will not let Ukraine run out of equipment,” EU foreign
policy chief Josep Borrell told reporters on Tuesday in Brussels
following a meeting of European defense ministers.
The diplomat theorized that Russia may have suffered “impressive losses”
since attacking Ukraine, suggesting casualties of as many as 15% of its
troops, but demurred when asked how long he felt the war might
continue, stating “I wouldn’t dare to make an hypothesis about how long Russia can resist.”
On Friday, Borrell announced another $526 million (€500 million)
package of lethal aid to be sent to Kiev, bringing the total amount
pledged to $2.11 billion (€2 billion). The money would buy heavy weapons
such as tanks and artillery, he said, adding that he was also
optimistic the continental alliance would reach an elusive agreement on a
Russian oil embargo.
The promised embargo failed to materialize
on Monday as the EU devised its sixth package of anti-Russia sanctions.
Hungary, said to be the last remaining holdout, has demanded hundreds of
millions of dollars in compensation, having repeatedly argued that
cutting itself off from Russian oil and gas would do significantly more
harm to its own people than to Moscow.
Following Russia’s attack
on Ukraine, the EU took the unprecedented step of providing €450 million
in lethal aid to Kiev, with several member states following suit. The
bloc previously had a policy of not supplying weapons to countries
involved in a conflict. In attempting to justify the decision, Borrell
declared that “we live in unprecedented times,” arguing “this war requires our engagement in order to support the Ukrainian army.” While Ukraine is seeking to join both the EU and NATO, it is currently a member of neither alliance.
Earlier on Tuesday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov expressed doubt that Western states seek to benefit Ukraine: “Nobody
cares about Ukraine. Ukraine is an ‘expendable material’ in the proxy
war against Russia. There can be no doubts about it now. It has been
Russia attacked the neighboring state in late February,
following Ukraine’s failure to implement the terms of the Minsk
agreements, first signed in 2014, and Moscow’s eventual recognition of
the Donbass republics of Donetsk and Lugansk. The German- and
French-brokered Minsk Protocol was designed to give the breakaway
regions special status within the Ukrainian state.
The Kremlin has
since demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country
that will never join the US-led NATO military bloc. Kiev insists the
Russian offensive was completely unprovoked and has denied claims it was
planning to retake the two republics by force.